ANU School of History students, Charlotte Ward and Natasha Wykes recently undertook an internship at the National Museum of Australia (NMA).
“I just wanted to thank you for this tremendous story, and to congratulate you both on the obvious success of your internships at the National Museum. It’s really wonderful to learn of your exciting work there, your enthusiasm for Australian history, and the contributions you’ve been able to make to public understandings of history as both ‘past’ and ‘present’. We’re very proud of you both.” Frank Bongiorno – Head, ANU School of History
Both, Charlotte and Natasha have shared their experience of this fantastic opportunity.
“We were lucky enough to be chosen to do an internship with the National Museum of Australia. The Endeavour 250 exhibition that will open in 2020 marks 250 years since James Cook and his crew sailed up the East Coast of Australia. The aim of the exhibition is to emphasise the perspectives both from the ship and from the shore, with particular emphasis given to the Indigenous perspectives of the encounter that has been typically left out of bicentennial celebrations. Charlotte was particularly drawn to do the internship with the NMA because of the topic of the exhibition. Australian History is Charlotte’s passion as she feels that a lot of Australians are unaware of their own history and how it informs the present. Natasha was drawn to the practical element of the research; having it feed into the exhibition has proven to be an exciting and challenging way to reconsider historical sources and the stories they have the potential to tell.
We’ve both found our time at the NMA to be a genuinely unique experience. The research we’ve conducted has deepened our understanding of how to interpret and communicate narratives from the past whether it be through different languages, objects or individual experiences. We have been privileged to work with a team of enthusiastic and supportive curators, who have always had time for our questions and happy to provide feedback on our research.
Natasha’s research looks at the Three Birrooguns (or Brothers) – a group of mountains on the mid-north coast of NSW – and how the narrative of their existence is an ongoing dialogue between the local Birpai creation story as it is told alongside James Cook’s Endeavour expedition in 1770. Charlotte’s research investigates how language has been recorded, remembered and affected in the locations that Cook sighted and/or stopped at along the East Coast of Australia in 1770. The research will be used in the exhibition to emphasise the richness of language that existed in 1770 and the strength of Indigenous language that still survives contrary to historical events that have challenged its remembrance.
The Museum has allowed us to conduct historical research in a practical space, which has changed our perspectives on how to communicate narratives; it is something we would encourage any history student to take up where the opportunity presents itself!"