There is no ‘I’ in Team: Reflections on Team-Based Content Development at the National Museum of Australia

Guy Hansen


In recent years one of the most important trends in the development of history exhibitions in major museums has been the use of interdisciplinary project teams for content development. This approach, often referred to as the team based model of content development, has, in many institutions, replaced older models of exhibition production built around the expertise of the curator. The implementation of team based models has had a profound impact on the way exhibitions are produced. When done well it has helped deliver exhibitions combining a strong focus on audience needs with in-depth scholarship and collections research. In some contexts, however, the tyranny of the team has given rise to a form of museological trench warfare in which different stakeholders struggle for creative control of an exhibition. In this article I will explore some aspects of the team based approach with reference to the development of the opening suite of exhibitions for the National Museum of Australia (NMA) in 2001. My observations are drawn from my experience as the lead curator of the Nation Gallery, one of the NMA’s opening exhibitions.


public history; content development; team based model; National Museum of Australia

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