Interviews and past lectures

Nicholson Museum

Some Impressions of Greece: The photographic archive of William Woodhouse

May 30 2018, Nicholson Museum

On May 30 2018 our Assistant Curator Candace Richards gave a free public lecture on the photographic archive of our former curator William J Woodhouse.

This talk delved into the collection revealing Woodhouse’s love of Greece and his family, and discussed the significance of the archive. Candace introduced the museum’s Flickr project where members of the public have contributed to the documentation of the archive and conveyed some of the incredible encounters she had while retracing Woodhouse's steps through Peloponnese in 2017.

Candace Richards is Assistant Curator of the Nicholson Museum, and has been part of the Sydney University Museums team for over 10 years. She is an archaeologist interested in Mediterranean and Balkan archaeology, working on both research and commercial excavations in Europe and Australia. Currently she is a senior team member of the Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project and is undertaking research on recycling and reuse in the area of Nea Paphos.

Shakespeare's Mark Antony: a tale of two authors

March 27 2018, Nicholson Museum

Professor Kathryn Welch gave a lecture at the University of Sydney on 27 March 2018 as part of our #freeSaturdaylecture series 'Postcards from the Past':

Shakespeare made Marcus Antonius a pivotal character in two of his most famous plays, Julius Caesar (1599) and Antony and Cleopatra (c.1607). However, even at the hands of such a sharp observer of character, the Antony of one play is not quite the same character as the Antony of the other. This presentation will argue that Shakespeare was reacting to and extending a complicated source tradition in an interesting way. He had access to two major authors, Plutarch and Appian, who had appeared in English translations of 1579 and 1578 respectively.

Shakespeare’s contrasting versions offer an opportunity to observe the on-going (and immensely entertaining) history of the image of Antonius that started with himself, was massaged by his friends and enemies alike, and still has a strong impact on the popular culture of our own times.

Stories from the storeroom: Amarna’s frescoes reconstructed

February 21 2018, Nicholson Museum

On 21 February 2018 we presented our latest research about the Nicholson Museum’s Egyptian fresco from Amarna to the Friends of the Nicholson Museum. Listen here for the latest news on the conservation and research of the fresco.

Art and Performance: Two decades of archaeology at the ancient theatre of Paphos, Cyprus

January 30 2018, Nicholson Museum

The University of Sydney’s Paphos Theatre Archaeological Project has been excavating, analysing and interpreting the remains of the World Heritage listed ancient theatre of Paphos since 1995. Working with the Department of Antiquities of Cyprus, over 500 Australian archaeologists, students and contributing volunteers to date have helped reveal a structure that was used as a venue for performance and spectacle for over 650 years from its construction around 300 BC through to its destruction by earthquake around 365 AD. Despite the subsequent stripping of stone from the building, clear archaeological and architectural evidence indicates that the theatre could hold up to 8500 spectators.

The project has also been investigating the surrounding theatrical precinct, including a Roman fountain house and a colonnaded street. These important excavations are slowly revealing clues about the urban layout of the capital city of ancient Cyprus. Project director Dr Craig Barker discussed what is known about the site, the project’s adoption of new technologies and work with visual contemporary artists. The creative spirit of the ancient actors lives on.

In conversation series

Beginning in 2017 the Nicholson Museum began an In Conversation series, to we explore the life and work of prominent archaeologists who have helped shape the museum throughout their careers. Our first guest was Associate Professor Judy Birmingham in conversation with Dr Craig Barker; discussing a career spanning decades and encompassing the pre-historic through to the historic. Future interviews in this series, as well as all of our upcoming lectures, can be found on our events calendar.

A Life in Archaeology: In Conversation with Judy Birmingham

May 27 2017, Nicholson Museum

Associate Professor Judy Birmingham is a significant figure in the history of archaeology in Australia. She studied at the Institute of Archaeology in London under Sir Max Mallowan and undertook extensive fieldwork in the Middle East, Cyprus, Greece and Britain with some of the most famous and fascinating figures of 20th century archaeology. Beginning with the Near East, she went on to pioneer the development of Australian historical archaeology in the 1970s and 1980s, leading excavations at sites such as Irrawang, Wybalenna and Regentville.

Sharing memories of the resistance she overcame while developing Australian historical archaeology courses, Judy and Craig discussed what it was like to be the first female archaeological staff member at the University, and her involvement with the Nicholson and Macleay Museum collections over five decades.

Macleay Museum

Arts and Aboriginal Australia: decolonisation or reconciliation?

31 May 2017, Macleay Museum

In 2017, National Reconciliation Week commemorates two significant milestones in Australian history: 50 years since the 1967 referendum and 25 years since the Murray Island Land Case 'Mabo' Decision.

In those 50 years museums have slowly changed from exhibitions 'about' Indigenous peoples to exhibitions by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curators. This year also marks 25 years of the University of Sydney’s own repatriation program, part of an International reconciliation between museums and colonised peoples.

As the University of Sydney embarks on the building of the new Chau Chak Wing Museum, we will continue to question how exhibitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections can engage all visitors meaningfully.

How can museums embed the diversity of knowledge and experience that these objects signify for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities today?

This panel session was chaired by Matt Poll, Curator Indigenous Heritage and Repatriation Project, Macleay Museum on 31 May 2017. Matt was joined by:

  • Sharni Jones, Manager of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections at the Australian Museum
  • Stephen Gilchrist, Associate Lecturer Department of Art History, University of Sydney
  • Rodney Kelly, Gweagal activist for the repatriation of ancestral collections to Aboriginal ownership
  • Amanda Reynolds, Stella Stories artist, curator, cultural consultant and editor.

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