Cultural Heritage Centre for Asia and the Pacific


History of the course

Origins and instigators
From Rusden to Burwood, 1997
Master of Cultural Heritage
Staff in Museum Studies

Origins and instigators

A UNESCO seminar 'Training for the Museum Professional' was held in Melbourne in 1973. This led directly to the establishment of a university course in Sydney, and the Melbourne-based course at the Prahran College of Advanced Education (accredited 1977).

The Prahran years, 1979-1982

The Graduate Diploma course in Museum Studies commenced at the Prahran College of Advanced Education in 1979, with Dr Wayne Orchiston as the Coordinator. The first students were all full-time enrolments.

Developments at Prahran and the emergence of Victoria College

Part-time students were accepted from 1980. Most students in the course lived in (or relocated to) Melbourne. The Museum Studies program became part of Victoria College when several institutions amalgamated in 1981. Staff became part of the Faculty of Applied Science.

The Rusden years, 1983-1996 and the second Course Coordinator

In 1983, the course moved from Prahran to the Rusden campus of Victoria College in Clayton. Dr Orchiston resigned in 1987. Following a distiguished career in astronomy in New Zealand, he now lives in Sydney.

Roger Trudgeon directed the course from 1988 to early 1994. He had previously been in charge of the Museums Unit at the Victorian Ministry for the Arts. Roger is now the Curator/Manager of the Gold Museum at Ballarat.

Celebrating the first decade

To celebrate the first ten years of the program, a conference for the museum profession was held at Werribee Park Mansion in December 1989. This was also the occasion for the presentation of the inaugural Roslyn Lawry Award for excellence in Museum Studies, to Mandy Paul and Scott Bird.

Amalgamation with Deakin University

During Roger Trudgeon's tenure, Victoria College amalgamated with Deakin University (1992). Museum Studies was now located in the Faculty of Science and Technology. A coursework Master of Museum Studies was introduced in the same year. In 1994, staff member Rachel Faggetter commenced collaborative and ongoing work with Deakin's Institute of Koorie Education to jointly manage curriculum development for Indigenous students in Heritage Interpretation and Museum Studies.

The third Course Coordinator

Margaret Birtley (coordinator 1994-2005 ) joined Deakin University following museum experience at Scienceworks, and with the Museums Association of Australia. She joined the Collections Council of Australia in February 2005 as its inaugral CEO. Since 2010 she has been General Manager of Heritage and Tourism at the Melbourne Cricket Club, where among other tasks, she is responsible for five heritage collections at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, including the National Sports Museum.

Course developments

In 1996, a Graduate Certificate of Museum Studies was introduced, and at the same time this award became available for the distance-education market.

In 2000 the Graduate Diploma of Museum Studies also began to be offered in off-campus mode.

From Rusden to Burwood, 1997

At the start of 1997, the Museum Studies program relocated from Rusden campus (in Clayton) to the Melbourne campus (in Burwood). The course was the first program of the Science and Technology Faculty to relocate completely.

Graduates transforming museum services

As a 'fringe' event prior to the ICOM'98 triennial assembly in Melbourne, a group of students organised a one-day conference. "20th century graduates : 21st century practice : transforming museum services" was held on 9 October 1998 and attracted over 100 delegates and vigorous discussion. The core organising team consisted of Anna Fairclough, Wendy Doolan, Janet Miller, Andrew Paterson and Veronica Scholes. Valued sponsorship was received from Deakin University, the Ford Motor Company of Australia, and the State Library of Victoria.

Celebrating the second decade

Following the 20C:21C conference on 9 October 1998, a 'field trip' by train and a dinner in Castlemaine reunited many Museum Studies graduates, some of whom had come to Melbourne especially for the ICOM'98 international triennial. Reunion organisers included Roger Taylor (1982), Pamela Luhrs & Rene White (1983), Henry Gaughan (1990), Nina Richwol & Jacqui Woolf (1992), Jean Johnson & Elyse White (1993), Cathy Dodson, Ingrid Offler & Ursula Richens (1994), Susan Barnett & Julie Jones (1996). Valued sponsorship was received from Zetta Florence (03 9416 2236), Artifact Conservation (03 5422 6606), the Robert McDougall Art Gallery, Christchurch, N.Z., and Carrick Hill historic house (SA).

A change of faculties

At the start of 2000, the Museum Studies program was translated to the Faculty of Arts. A twin course in Cultural Heritage was developed up to Graduate Diploma level. In 2009, the Faculty incorporated the School of Education, to become the Faculty of Arts and Education.


Master of Cultural Heritage

In the transformation of 2000, the two courses were brought together with capstone semester to produce the 12 credit-point Master of Cultural Heritage degree (which can take either a museum or a place-heritage focus). In 2008, an Honours component was developed in the form of an additional semester of work comprising research methodology and a three credit-point sub-thesis (equivalent to the Faculty's undergraduate Honours program). Many students have now taken this route to enrolling in PhD studies.

Staff in Museum Studies

In addition to the course coordinators, other staff have been valued contributors to the program over the years, including Honor Godfrey, Margaret Anderson, Anthea Hancocks, Chris Keeler, Sharron Dickman, Gair-Amina Cone, Sarah Edwards, Jonathan Sweet, Rachel Faggetter, Colin Long, Donald Ellsmore, Anne Kershaw, Henry Gaughan.

Involving additional expertise

A multitude of professionals from the museum and heritage sectors have contributed their time and expertise to the Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies program. They have hosted field trips and site visits, supervised practical placements and internships, delivered lectures and seminars, and provided advice on course development.


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Deakin University acknowledges the traditional land owners of present campus sites.

13th March 2012