Posts Tagged ‘Cedric Boudjema’

The Eco Museum in Fairfield

Fairfield Museum and Art Gallery Director Cedric Boudjema

An Eco-Museum is being developed in Fairfield as a strategy to represent the most diverse municipality in Australia. When director Cedric Boudjema took on the Fairfield Museum directorship in November 2008, he saw the need to collaborate with the community to build a more reflective collection. The Fairfield City Museum and Art Gallery collection was primarily objects from white settlement yet the municipality is Australia’s most culturally diverse — 52 per cent of the population is overseas born and home to more than 50 nationalities.

He borrowed the ‘eco museum’ model, developed in France in the 1970s, with its main aim to preserve tangible and intangible heritage. Mr Boudjema wanted to record the objects migrants arrive with in Australia. He is also interested in what happens to a language and culture when it is influenced by living in another country. ‘The Uruguyans arrived in the 1960s and when they came, they played the drums. Now they play with Australian kids and it is no longer just for their community,’ Mr Boudjema said. ‘I want to look at how a group of people manage this transformation process when they arrive in a new place.’

One of the first major exhibitions, Fairfield has developed, using the ‘eco museum’ philosophy looks at traditional costumes from 50 migrant groups. Curator Janise Derbyshire is working with Mr Boudjema to develop the exhibition and public program using the whole municipality as its exhibition space. Photographer Danny Huynh is taking portraits of each of the communities wearing their traditional costume in front of their houses (to become part of the exhibition). Textile workshops will invite different nationalities to share their techniques. The costumes will be on display in as many locations as the museum can develop partnerships with so that it can make the shire a living museum.

Image by Danny Hunyh, Hmong community (Cara Yang, Bruce Yang, Sarsha Yang, Pa Yang & Madelin Yang), Courtesy of the artist / Fairfield City Museum and Art Gallery

Not only is Fairfield Museum taking its collection into the community, it is also inviting communities to borrow the objects. The Museum will teach those interested about how to care for the artefacts and then encourage them to use the collection items as part of their own customs. This philosophy was developed by Julian Spalding while he worked at the Glasgow Museums Service. Another example of this practice is at the Albury City LibraryMuseum. They act as a caretaker for the community’s possum skin cloak so the Elders can collect it from the Museum and take it to schools or wear it in ceremonies. Mr Boudjema said, ‘the living heritage museum is about this accessibility of the collection. The collection is no longer destined to the museum only but to the communities.’

Cross-pollination is the idea that underpins the Collections Australia Network’s (CAN) strategy. It values sharing methodologies, resources and knowledge between the gallery, library, archive and museum sectors. Fairfield Museum uploaded a selection of objects from its collection onto CAN last month.