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: www.nma.gov.au/pate
Lunchtime Colloquium Video - Placing the Nation: Towards ecological understanding at the National Museum of Australia