Curating controversial topics
Developing the exhibition X-Rated: The Sex Industry in the ACT
In 2015, the Canberra Museum and Gallery (CMAG) presented the exhibition X-Rated: The Sex Industry in the ACT. Aware of the potential for controversy arising from displaying material related to and created by the sex industry, CMAG went to great lengths to creatively address the problem of exhibiting legally and socially restricted material. In this paper, the exhibition’s curator, Rowan Henderson, describes the approach adopted by CMAG, the obstacles faced in achieving the exhibition’s objectives, and reflects on the things that could have been done differently.
A change in institutional leadership almost inevitably brings about organisational changes in direction and focus. The current rapid pace of such change is reflected in the way the Australian Museum has reinvented itself since the appointment of a new director in 2015. All aspects of the museum’s activities have been impacted by these changes, including the museum building, its internal spaces and its exhibition program. As a result, it’s more than likely that Sydneysiders will fall in love with the grand old institution all over again.
The Ruhr region, once a centre of German coalmining and industry, has been forced by an extended period of economic downturn, to reimagine its industrial landscape. As a consequence, one of the area’s most landmark industrial sites, the Zollverein coal-washing facility has been transformed into a museum of the region’s social and cultural heritage. Its landmark exhibition, Coal Global, explores the intricacies of the global coal industry and is an example of cultural capacity stepping into the void that is left when industry departs.