Dr Jonathan Sweet



Senior Lecturer In Cultural Heritage And Museum Studies


Faculty of Arts and Education


SHSS Arts & Ed


Melbourne Burwood Campus


Research interests

Cultural heritage and development in the Asia-Pacific region.
Dr Sweet researches the relationships between heritage and development in the Asia-Pacific region. Of special interest is the contribution that heritage conservation and museology can make to building mutual understanding, regional stability and economic prosperity. He has undertaken research in the field in Australia, China, India, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, the Pacific and Tunisia. This builds on his role as a Chief Investigator in the Australian Research Council project entitled, Cultural Heritage Site Significance, Management and Interpretation in China and Australia: A Comparative Analysis in a Cross-Cultural Framework.

Contemporary museum and heritage theory and practice
Dr Sweet researches capacity building in museums and cultural heritage organisations. He has contributed research based solutions to collecting organisations in Australia and abroad. These include local organisations with specialist and diverse collecting interests, and the international agency UNESCO, for whom he has been a specialist advisor in the development of a regional museums capacity building strategy. In line with this, he was the Chief Investigator of the 'Lampang Temples Project', 2009-11. This included research into cross-culural pedagogy in South-East Asia, through a case study focused on capacity building for Buddhist monks in northern Thailand.

The history of museums and museology.
Dr Sweet researches the history of museums and museology. He has written extensively on colonial exhibition design and representation. Most recently he has focused on the relationships between colonial museums in the British world, and the development of post-colonial museums in the Asia-Pacific region.

Cross-cultural museology.
Dr Sweet has a strong interest in the cross-cultural, cosmopolitan and transnational characteristics of museums and museology. Of particular interest are the roles that significant individuals and professional museological networks have played in facilitating change. In line with this interest, in 2008 he served on the academic advisory board of the 'International Committee of the History of Art 32nd Congress' and organised the 'Museums across cultures' stream of the conference.


In 2010 Dr Sweet shared the 'ICOM Award for International Relations' in recognition of the significance of the 'Lampang Temples Project'.


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The community museum and the heritage of conflict in the Kelabit Highlands, Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo

Dr Jonathan Sweet, Ms Toyah Horman, Jennifer Rowe

(2015), pp. 189-199, Battlefield events : landscape, commemoration and heritage, Abingdon, Eng., B1


Dynamics of cultural heritage development in Sarawak

Dr Jonathan Sweet, Dr Meghan Kelly

(2014), pp. 1-16, IIAS 2014 : Proceedings of the Conference on State Policy and the Cultural Politics of Heritage-Making in East and Southeast Asia, Singapore, E1


Colonial museology and the Buddhist chronicles of Sri Lanka: agency and negotiation in the development of the palm-leaf manuscript collection at the Colombo Museum

Dr Jonathan Sweet

(2014), Vol. 12, pp. 225-246, Museum & Society, Leicester, England, C1


Breadth of museology in Asia : towards participation and diversification in heritage conservation

Dr Jonathan Sweet

(2014), pp. 11-21, International Conference on The Future Museum : An Asian Perspective, Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, E1


Cultural heritage and development in South East Asia

Dr Jonathan Sweet, Jo Wills

(2013), pp. 338-355, Handbook of research on development and religion, Cheltenham, England, B1-1


New museums across cultures : introduction

Dr Jonathan Sweet

(2009), pp. 1028-1031, Crossing cultures : conflict, migration and convergence : the proceedings of the 32nd International Congress of the History of Art, Carlton, Vic., E1


International exhibition postcards : tangible reflections of an ephemeral past

Dr Jonathan Sweet

(2008), pp. 8.1-8.13, Seize the day : exhibitions, Australia and the world, Clayton, Vic., B1


Museum architecture and visitor experience

Dr Jonathan Sweet

(2007), pp. 226-237, Museum marketing: competing in the global marketplace, Amsterdam, Netherlands, B1


Beyond local significance : Victorian gold at the London international exhibition, 1862

Dr Jonathan Sweet

(2007), pp. 185-202, Deeper leads : new approaches to Victorian goldfields history, Ballarat, Vic, B1


What museums do with objects

Dr Jonathan Sweet

(2007), Vol. 54, pp. 30-34, Object, Sydney, N.S.W., C1


Transformative learning in the hidden city : writing an interpretation plan at the Viengxai Field School in Northern Laos

Jo Wills, Dr Colin Long, Dr Jonathan Sweet, Mr Simon Wilmot

(2007), pp. 1-12, ICOMOS 2007 : Extreme heritage : ICOMOS conference held at James Cook University, Cairns, 19-21 July 2007, Cairns, Qld., E1-1


Globalization, nationalism and world heritage : interpreting Luang Prabang

Dr Colin Long, Dr Jonathan Sweet

(2006), Vol. 14, pp. 445-469, South East Asia research, Brighton, England, C1


UNESCO and cultural heritage practice in Australia in the 1950s: The international touring exhibition Australian Aboriginal Culture, 1948-55

Dr Jonathan Sweet

(2006), Vol. 4, pp. 209-218, Asia pacific journal of arts and cultural management, Adelaide, S. Aust., C1


Training to meet the key needs of Australia's heritage collections, and the wider implications for training in a globalised community

Ms Margaret Birtley, Dr Jonathan Sweet

(2002), pp. 1-12, Resolutions and Recommendations of ICOM 2002 Annual Meeting: "Museum Training in a Globalizing World"., Paris, France, E1


The Gold Pyramid

Dr Jonathan Sweet

(2001), pp. 90-91, Gold and civilisation, Sydney, N.S.W, B1-1



Australian Competitive Grants

Making Room for the Past: Determining significance in archaeological collections from historic sites

Prof William Logan, Dr Jonathan Sweet, Ms Susan Balderstone, Dr Leah McKenzie, Dr Anita Smith

ARC Linkage - Projects Rnd 1 APAI APDI

  • 2006: $12,426

Industry and Other Funding

UNESCO Museums Capacity Building Program: Lampang Pilot

Dr Jonathan Sweet

  • 2009: $17,710


Principal Supervisor

Sally Watterson

Thesis entitled: Jinhin Mongol / True Mongolian: Mongolian museums and the construction of national identity

Doctor of Philosophy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Graeme Henry Williams

Thesis entitled: The Significance of the Collections of the Melbourne Savage Club

Master of Arts, School of Communication & Creative Arts

Associate Supervisor

Lorinda Cramer

Thesis entitled: Needlework and genteel identity in gold rush Victoria

Doctor of Philosophy, School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Ilka Schacht

Thesis entitled: Determining Research Significance in Archaeological Collections from Historic Sites

Doctor of Philosophy, School of History, Heritage and Society