The Chance of a Dangerous Adventure

About two years ago the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House surveyed the Australian cultural landscape – in terms of things prime ministerial – and started thinking about what we could do to transform people’s experience and understanding of Australian prime ministers, from Barton to now.

thumbnail_Gorton globe FXJ89791We knew, from working with political scientists, historians, artists, playwrights, novelists, journalists, curators, conservators, librarians and other clever and strange people, that there are many ways to research prime ministers. We also knew, from our diverse onsite and online museum audiences, that there are just as many ways to engage with prime ministers.

The result of this process of wondering, collaborating and creating is available now – http://www.moadoph.gov.au/pm – and offers the most complete picture of Australia’s prime ministers. It brings together prime ministerial places, objects, exhibitions and events, research, commentary, sources, stories and learning resources.

This has been a major undertaking over the past year involving the imagining and designing of a content management system and collection harvesting and search platform,         the researching and writing of content, the indexing and connecting of collection records, the finding and curating of photos of PMs (including many rarely seen images, never before brought together in one place), the creation of new tools and visualisations to make sense of historical data and social data, all the while working with 15 partner organisations around Australia, and many others, to make it all possible.

We see this as the beginning rather than the end. The collections around Australia connected by the site will continue to grow – some automatically where it has been possible to set up the indexing that way and others through further collaborations,  with more and more of the distributed national collection relating to PMs becoming discoverable through this site. The content on this site will also grow as more diverse contributors, including our visitors, engage with it.

Please get in touch to let us know what you think, or if you would like to contribute to the site in some way: apmc@moadoph.gov.au   and, in the words of PM Gorton:

May the high courage and technical genius which made this achievement possible be so used in the future that (hu)mankind will live in a universe in which peace, self-expression, and the chance of dangerous adventure, are available to all.

Toni Dam, Manager, Australian Prime Ministers Centre, Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House