An extra cultural heritage seminar this month – Sustainability, Public History and the Museum: the case of the history museums of Cyprus

We are delighted to welcome visiting ERASMUS scholar Alexandra Bounia to Deakin this week.  Alexandria is the Professor of Museology in the Department of Cultural Technology and Communication of the University of the Aegean and will be giving a seminar on Friday lunch time at the Deakin Downtown campus on Collins Street.


Cyprus has a long history of war, conflict and occupation. And, as is often the case with regions in conflict, the museums of the island have to represent this history. In Cyprus, this is the case for the two main ethnic communities of the island – the Greek-Cypriot and the Turkish-Cypriot community – who, since the 1960s, have presented a history that remains fractured and contested. This presentation will focus on four museums: the (National) Struggle Museum in the Republic of Cyprus, and three museums in the ‘Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus’ (TRNC) which is still unrecognized by the international community: the National Struggle Museum and the Museum of Barbarism, both in north Nicosia, and the Museum of Peace and Freedom in Cirne (Kyrenia).  Alexandra writes:

My discussion will focus on their history and their exhibitions, analysing their narratives, use of objects and photographic material, their depiction of the ‘Other’, as well as their commemorative styles. I will argue that despite the fact that all four museums have been recently refurbished, their aims and discourse remain un-changed, largely reflecting values and myths that encourage division and conflict. Furthermore, I will argue that these Cypriot history museums have a very complex role to play; on one hand, they present and save for the future memories of a past, not very distant in time but extremely painful for both the communities of the island; on the other, they have to survive in an environment of crisis (financial among others), which affects communities and the ways they think about the past and their present. Sustainability thus becomes a central issue, since it means that these institutions have to work towards a more inclusive and sustainable (in social and political terms) future, while supporting communities which face economic, social and environmental difficulties.

Alexandra studied archaeology and history of art in the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (Greece) and museology in the University of Leicester (UK). Her research interests focus on the history, theory and management of collections and museums, the interpretation of material culture and the use of new media for the protection and promotion of cultural heritage. She has published in Greek and international journals and books and has been a member of research programmes in Greece and abroad. She has served in various administrative position at the University of the Aegean, where she currently serves as the Vice-Rector of Academic Affairs and Quality Assurance. She is also the Chair of the Hellenic Committee of ICOM (2016-2018). In collaboration with Susan Pearce she has edited the book Collector’s Voice: Ancient Voices, published in 2001 by Ashgate Press. Her book entitled Collectors and Collections in the Ancient World: The Nature of Classical Collecting was published in 2004 by the same publishing house, while her book entitled “Behind the Scenes of the Museum: Managing Museum Collections” was published in 2009 by the Greek publishing house Patakis. Her most recent book (in collaboration with Theopisti Stylianou-Lambert) is entitled The Political Museum: Power, Conflict and Identity in Cyprus and it was published in 2016 by Routledge. (E-mail: )

Date: Friday 4th August 2017

Time: 12.30pm

Venue: Deakin Downtown, 727 Collins St, Tower 2, Level 12

Venue Tip: Deakin’s new city centre campus is between Southern Cross Station and Docklands, on tram routes 11 and 48 (Stop D15). Entry is via Tower Two. The reception desk directs you to an escalator to a bank of lifts and Deakin Downtown is on Level 12. 

RSVP: Prof. Andrea Witcomb,

Deakin’s story in 9 Objects?

Deakin has some amazing cultural collections, and we have been working with our university archives, library and art gallery colleagues over the last year to think of ways to showcase our collections and to give our students valuable ‘real world’ experiences.  Given it’s almost 40 years since the first students graduated from Deakin, we decided to explore ways in which we could tell the history of our university through those cultural collections.

The result is ‘Deakin in 9 Objects’: a collaboration between Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies, Film and Television Studies, The Deakin Art Gallery, University Archives and the University Library.  The university has committed to supporting the project with six paid internships for Deakin students.  Students will be paired across disciplines to create short audiovisual interpretations of significant artefacts from the University’s cultural collections, resulting in nine stories in total. Together, these nine objects and their filmed representations will tell the story of student life across Deakin’s campuses and its antecedent institutions.  We hope that these will eventually be pulled together on one website, where everyone can see their creative responses and learning about Deakin’s history. 

Over the next two trimesters, six students (three from the cultural heritage and museums studies postgraduate program and three from Film and Television studies) will work together in pairs.  Dave Tredinnick, Collections Coordinator in the Deakin University Archives has been leading the project:  “Now that our interns have started work, it’s great to see how quickly they have responded creatively and intellectually to the chosen archival objects. I’m really looking forward to seeing how they take on the challenge of expressing these ideas in a short film format.”

The first interns – Maruan and Pravin –  started in the Uni archives last week and are thinking about the objects and their creative response to them.  

“Deakin in 9 Objects interns Marian Jenkinson and Pravin Rokaya holding one of their ‘objects’, Deakin University Archive, Burwood”





Asked about their first day they responded: “Overwhelmed, anxious, nostalgic – these are some of the feelings washing over us as we start this project. We’re curious as to where this project will take us as we mull over ideas- rejecting some, laughing at some – and very aware of how much work we have ahead of us”: feelings many of us have experienced when we start a new project!

 Another object under consideration is the video from our very first graduation – and we are really looking forward to seeing the creative response!

Still from video footage of First Graduation Ceremony, May 1978 – one of the artefacts under consideration.”




Merging Tactile Experiences with Virtual Reality in Museums: Bringing Little Leaellynasaura from the Otways to Life

Our next cultural heritage seminar will be a presentation by Kaja Antlej, Ben Horan (Deakin University) and Georgia Melville (National Wool Museum), on “Merging Tactile Experiences with Virtual Reality in Museums: Bringing Little Leaellynasaura from the Otways to Life”.

For centuries, museums have been using tactile copies to better engage visitors with their collections. Digital technologies provide a whole new perspective for storytelling in museums, but often lack a tactile experience that enables closer connection with objects. Deakin University is working together with palaeontologist Professor Pat Vickers-Rich and the National Wool Museum to investigate merging physical exhibits with virtual environments. As a case study, a wallaby-size dinosaur from Otway, Leaellynasaura, is used to explore engaging ways of interpreting heritage in museums through virtual reality, augmented realty and 3D printing.

For more about the project, please see:



Date: Wednesday 19 July 2017

Time: 5.00pm

Venue: Deakin Downtown, 727 Collins St, Tower 2, Level 12

Venue Tip: Deakin’s new city centre campus is between Southern Cross Station and Docklands, on tram routes 11 and 48 (Stop D15). Entry is via Tower Two. The reception desk directs you to an escalator to a bank of lifts and Deakin Downtown is on Level 12.

Free of charge.  All welcome. No bookings required.