Victorian Museums & Galleries Forum

The Victorian Museums & Galleries Forum is a one-day event dedicated to discussing trending topics in the museum and gallery sector. It takes place every other year in Melbourne, alternating with our State Conference in regional Victoria.

In 2019 the Victorian Museums & Galleries Forum will be held on Tuesday 15 October, 2019 at Deakin Downtown, Melbourne. The Healthy Museum theme is at the forefront of new learning and research, especially around the themes of health, happiness, sustainability, education and well-being. The Forum aims to provide delegates with information and discussions that demonstrate how museums and galleries can change lives.

This is an important, emerging topic, with museums joining the mental health conversation and we hope it will put Melbourne in the forefront of future discussions.

The Victorian Museums & Galleries Forum will bring together staff and volunteers from the Victorian museum and gallery sector, museum studies and art curatorship students, and the wider Melbourne, intrastate, interstate and international arts and culture community to hear from museum and gallery professionals from around the world, and learn about how museums and galleries can promote health and well-being. 

We are pleased to announce our first speakers at the Forum.



Tony Butler

Tony Butler

Tony Butler has been working in museums for over 20 years and is currently Executive Director of Derby Museums since January 2014. Derby Museums includes Derby Silk Mill, the site of the world’s first factory and a UNESCO World Heritage Site (currently undergoing a £17m refurbishment) and Derby Museum and Art Gallery which contains the world’s finest collection of works by the 18th century artist Joseph Wright of Derby. 

In 2011 he founded the Happy Museum Project, to create an international community of practice to explore how museums could contribute to a society in which well-being and environmental sustainability were its principle values. Happy Museum has affiliates throughout the world and has supported over 60 UK museums to develop projects which build mutual relationships with audiences and ‘steward the future as well as the past.’

The Happy Museum Project has the ethos of, ‘Our own happiness is short-lived if we achieve well-being for our generation at the environmental expense of future generations.’  He will be presenting about the Happy Museum Project and how the museum sector can respond to the challenge of creating a more sustainable future by identifying the vital link between sustainability and well-being.


Dr Caroline Butler-Bowdon

Dr Caroline Butler‐Bowdon is the Acting Director, Public Spaces in the new Place, and Public Spaces team at NSW Department of Planning, Industry & Environment. For the past few years she has been the Director, Strategy & Engagement at Sydney Living Museums. Spanning 20 years her career has been dedicated to cultural leadership that connects diverse audiences to history, arts and heritage through a broad range of public engagement programs, including festivals, exhibitions and books. In 2017 she was awarded a Churchill Fellowship. Her travels and study were focused on an investigation of the best new global models of visitor accessibility and experience at heritage sites and museums. Dr Butler-Bowdon also completed the Museum Leadership Institute Program in 2012 at The Getty Leadership Institute, Claremont Graduate University, California, and her PhD on the history of apartment living in Sydney was completed at the University of New South Wales in 2009.

Dr Butler-Bowdon will present her findings and learnings on the best new global models of visitor accessibility and experience at heritage sites - the structures, the programs and the methods.


Elizabeth Cotton

Elizabeth Cotton is Head of Human History at Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland Museum, where she leads the curatorial and collection management teams across the Māori, Pacific, Archaeology, Applied Arts & Design, and History areas of the Museum. Liz is currently a member of the Museums Aotearoa Board, ICOM Aotearoa New Zealand Committee, and Portage Ceramics Trust Board, and is an Honorary Academic at the University of Auckland. Her research interests are in the future of curatorial practice and indigenising museum practice.

Her presentation 'One name at a time: Indigenising Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland Museum'  touches on key initiatives and projects, intersectional governance and moves toward a true partnership with Māori as envisaged by the Treaty of Waitangi, the journey toward indigenising Tāmaki Paenga Hira Auckland Museum is underway,  and asks the questions but what are the next steps and is it a journey without end?  


 Tracy Margienson

Tracy currently manages the Arts Wellbeing Collective at Arts Centre Melbourne. Since the Pilot Program in 2017, the Arts Wellbeing Collective has grown rapidly to be an innovative industry-wide program – the only of its kind worldwide. Tracy’s previous roles include Creative Manager at Williamstown Literary Festival, Marketing & Development Manager at Gasworks Arts Park, as well as freelance arts management consultancy to a variety of organisations including Regional Arts Victoria, Kids Thrive, and The Australian School of Magic. Tracy is a qualified Mental Health First Aid Instructor, and also an independent theatre maker where recent credits include Drowning in Veronica Lake (2015 and 2016 tours) and Queen Bee (2014).

Tracy will talk about the evolution of the Arts Wellbeing Collective and share key learnings and takeaways when establishing and embedding mental health and wellbeing initiatives.

 Bookings are now open.  More speakers to be announced soon!

> Book your place now

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AMaGA Victoria respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work, the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung peoples and honour their Ancestors, Elders and next generations of community and pays respect to the Elders of all the Nations of Victoria, past, present and emerging.