Powerhouse Museum appoints inaugural Director First Nations
[by Sasha Haughan]
Emily McDaniel, Director, First Nations, Powerhouse Museum. Image: Daniel Boud.
The Powerhouse announced the appointment of Emily McDaniel, an esteemed curator, educator and writer from the Kalari Clan of the Wiradjuri nation in Central New South Wales, in the new role of Director, First Nations.
The most significant First Nations role appointed by the Powerhouse since the museum was founded in 1881, Emily McDaniel in the Director, First Nations leadership role will establish a First Nations Team that will be central to the renewal of the Powerhouse Museum. This will include the development of the new flagship Powerhouse Parramatta, the expansion of the Museum’s Discovery Centre, the renewal of Powerhouse Museum Ultimo and the ongoing programming of Sydney Observatory.
Working with the Chief Executive Lisa Havilah, McDaniel will develop and lead policies, strategies, museum practice and organisational change through First Nations community, research and academic engagement; decolonial and sovereignty methodologies; and representation.
The Director will oversee strategic First Nations projects, programs and engagement and embed First Nations knowledge to inform collection, exhibition, publications and program strategy.
Emily McDaniel is the curator of the City of Sydney’s Harbour Walk, a First Nations public art and interpretation strategy and program. As an independent consultant, she has advised on curatorship, engagement, learning and interpretation in the public domain, media and the museums and galleries sector. She has also held curatorial positions at the National Gallery of Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Museum of Contemporary Art, Biennale of Sydney and Kaldor Public Art Projects.
McDaniel’s creative and cultural practice centres on truth-telling, storytelling and revealing histories through the work of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists and creative practitioners. As First Nations Director, she will draw upon over a decade of curatorial expertise to deliver both creative and strategic leadership in this new role.
On her appointment, Emily McDaniel said: “I am honoured to take the position of Director, First Nations at the Powerhouse Museum. Yindyamarra is a Wiradjuri word which encapsulates a way of being – to be gentle, to honour, to be polite, to respect and to go slowly. As a Wiradjuri woman, I am dedicated to applying this principle to my work at the museum. This position is more than a demonstration of professional and creative practice, it is a cultural practice as well. I look forward to continuing my work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander nations and communities, as we shape our representation and determination within the collection and museum.”
Powerhouse Museum, Chief Executive Lisa Havilah said: “The appointment of Emily McDaniel into this senior executive role signals a bold paradigm shift for our institution. The Director First Nations will bring the stories of Australian and International First Nation communities to our audiences through exhibitions, programs and collections. Emily McDaniel through her curatorial, strategic and community leadership will make a significant contribution to the renewal and repositioning of the Powerhouse Museum.”
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