A historian in the museum: Story spaces and Australia's sporting past

Phillips, Murray G. (2010) A historian in the museum: Story spaces and Australia's sporting past. Australian Historical Studies, 41 3: 396-408. doi:10.1080/1031461X.2010.499600

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Author Phillips, Murray G.
Title A historian in the museum: Story spaces and Australia's sporting past
Journal name Australian Historical Studies   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1031-461X
Publication date 2010-09
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1080/1031461X.2010.499600
Volume 41
Issue 3
Start page 396
End page 408
Total pages 13
Place of publication Melbourne, Vic., Australia
Publisher Routledge
Collection year 2011
Language eng
Abstract The last decade of the 20th century and the first decade of the new millennium were very significant in Australian sport as many of the major sports celebrated their centenaries and sesquicentenaries. A wide range of celebrations were testament to Morris-Suzuki's view that 'our visions of history are drawn from diverse sources',1 and de Groot's assessment that investigating popular culture provides insights into the ways in which the past is sold, presented, transmitted and experienced.2 Historians, like me, were involved in these events, most commonly contributing to written commissioned histories of sporting organisations. In essence we crossed the divide between history as produced within the academic discipline and those recognised by Jordanova as of a different genre—public history3 —by contributing to 'the overlapping sites where history is produced, notably outside of academia'.4 One prominent dimension of the celebrations, and the focal point of this essay, was the travelling museum displays on Cricket, Rugby League and Surf Lifesaving.5 Museum exhibitions like the sporting displays, as cross-cultural research has indicated, are important forms of public history as they are accessible, popular and considered trustworthy representations of the past.6 In recognition of the value of museums as public history and out of a sense of obligation to these sporting organisations, I attended several of these museum displays as they travelled around Australian major cities and smaller towns. What was evident during my attendances was the desire to compare and contrast the relationship between how museum displays and historians represent the past in the present. I recognised the obvious similarities as both were dealing with comparable content material, but the overwhelming sense was the differences between how museums represent the past and what historians produce in written histories. In this essay, I look to explain some of the similarities and differences between representations of Australia's sporting past in museum exhibitions and written histories.
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Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2011 Collection
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Created: Sun, 03 Oct 2010, 00:08:05 EST