Kirsten Wehner

Membership:  2015/2016

Member Bio

Kirsten Wehner is a curator and anthropologist whose practice focuses on developing museums that help communities build ecological understanding and negotiate responses to current environmental crises. Her research interests encompass environmental history in museums, the pasts and futures of natural history objects, and studies of materiality, display, inter-speciality, and empathy. Kirsten is Head Curator of the People and the Environment program at the National Museum of Australia and was previously Content Director for the Museum Enhancement Program. She has developed collections, exhibitions, and digital projects relating to a variety of aspects of Australian history, culture, and environment, including, most recently, the National Museum’s Journeys (opened 2009) and Landmarks (2011) galleries, and the temporary exhibition “Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story” (2014). Kirsten holds a PhD from New York University and is a member of the Australia-Pacific Observatory of Humanities for the Environment and a professional associate of the University of Canberra.
While in residence at the Rachel Carson Center, Kirsten is working on a book project, The Ecological Museum. This project considers museum, and particularly exhibitionary, practices that in some way engage or overcome institutionalized distinctions between history and natural history, culture, and nature with the aim of working towards a coherent framework for an ecological material history.
More about the National Museum of Australia’s People and the Environment program is available at:
Lunchtime Colloquium Video - Placing the Nation: Towards ecological understanding at the National Museum of Australia


  • “Re-imagining the Animal-Objects of the Australian Institute of Anatomy.” In Curating the Future: Museums, Communities and Climate Change, edited by Jennifer Newell, Libby Robin and Kirsten Wehner. (Forthcoming 2016).
  • “Placing the Nation: Exhibitionary Practice at the National Museum of Australia.” In A Companion to Public History, edited by David Dean. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley Blackwell, forthcoming 2016.
  • (With Daniel Oakman and Martha Sear). Landmarks: A History of Australia in 33 Places. Canberra: National Museum of Australia, 2013.
  • (With Martha Sear.) “Engaging the Material World: Object Knowledge and Australian Journeys.” InMuseum Materialities: Objects, Engagements, Interpretation, edited by Sandra Dudley. London & New York: Routledge, 2010.
  • (With Mathew Trinca). “Pluralism and Exhibition Practice at the National Museum of Australia.” In South Pacific Museums: Experiments in Culture, edited by Chris Healy and Andrea Witcomb. Clayton, Australia: Monash University Press, 2007.
  • Publications