As part of the Australia-Indonesia Museums (AIM) Project, an online workshop on the significance museum approach was held from 28-29 October 2021. The workshop brought together twenty-four (24) participants from six (6) museums from Sulawesi and Kalimantan. The online workshop was hosted by the Makassar City Museum and the La Galigo Museum.
Dr Steven Cooke, Associate Professor of Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies, Deakin University, Corioli Souter, Curator, Western Australian Museum (WAM), and Andrew Henderson, SEAMS, presented the training material. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Research and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia supported the preparation and implementation of the event.
The workshop topics included new approaches to museology, including decolonisation and transnationalism, as well as an overview of the significance approach with case-studies from Indonesia and Australia. In her presentation, Corioli Souter shared about the connections between Bugis and Indigenous peoples that stretch back hundreds of years, through trade in trepang.
The connections between northern Australia and Makassar were explored further in the workshop, with participants completing a significance assessment of the Batik Yirrkala, which was made through a partnership between the Yirrkala Arts Centre from North East Arnhem Land and a traditional batik-making business in Pekalongan, Central Java, and gifted to the Makassar City Museum in 2015.
The workshop included a group work component where participants applied the Significance method directly to six (six) objects from the Makassar City Museum and the La Galigo Museum. The objects included the Batik Yirrkala (as described above); a bust of the Dutch Queen Wilhelmina, in which the participants explored the theme of decolonisation and interpretation; bricks from the Fort Somba Opu, a national heritage listed site with importance to the history of the city of Makassar; the Meong PaloE manuscript, which relates to beliefs around agriculture and connections with the natural cycles; Kampua money made from tais cloth, which was used for interregional trade; and a model of a Pinisi boat, connected to the maritime heritage of the Bugis people.