Yes, that’s what I heard from my Australian friend when I told him about going to Queensland Museum and Queensland Art Gallery. On the one hand, he was right. The space designed for those institutions is huge but in fact, there is not much to see. On the other hand, such visit leads to some serious conclusions.
Southbank is a sort of cultural district of Brisbane where most of public events promoting national culture take place as well as major galleries and museums are located. Luckily, I was there during the final day of Clancestry Festival (a celebration of country) and had a look at a marketplace with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art and craft. Those items were absolutely unique: handmade paintings, masks, bags, bracelets and didgeridoos! Anyone could also participate in various workshops reffering to the Aboriginal art. Awesome!
Next stop, Queensland Museum. I was very surprised (but at the same time, quite happy) with the fact that there were mostly families in there. I found really amazing how Aussies want their children to participate in such events and exhibitions from their early years. Although the massive line to the ticket office was caused by a dinosaurs exhibition, each parent took it for granted to show their kids also places in the museum reffering to the national history and heritage. And, in my opinion, that’s how the true sense of patriotism should be created.
The museum itself is entertaining for everyone, even though is designed mostly to catch children attention. Thus, there was particularly one section which I’d like to take a comment on. It’s called ‘The Courage of Ordinary Man – three stories of the Victoria Cross’ and describes lives and special contribution to the country of three soldiers on the Western Front in World War 1. You can read pieces of their poetry, letters, see their Victoria Cross medals and learn about their achievements. I can understand that great sacrifice since I come from the country which suffered a lot during the World War 2 and I appreciate their actions but … I mean .. if we wanted to create such exhibitions describing heroic death of our soldiers, we would have one at every second corner, probably. I don’t want to be taken wrong, since I really think that such exhibitions are crucial when it comes to building a national heritage and history, I just mean the scale of it. Still, it’s definitely worth seeing.
Last but not least, Queensland Art Museum and another divergent thoughts: the gallery is attractive from an architectural point of view, but the collection is not very rich. I disliked a bit the fact that the section reffering to European Art covers a really small space (and it’s not even divided clearly to the epoque or style, which might be particularly confusing for those who are not familiar with it) compared to other exhibitions (there was one exposition consisted only of different sized rulers (yes, rulers) and coverd nearly one-third of a huge room).
Again, don’t take me wrong, I enjoyed the visit and even admire how Australians try to promote their culture, but when it comes to a comparison, European museums can provide a much greater sense of, let’s say, cultural feeling, if you know what I mean.
I will for sure visit places like that in Sydney and Melbourne, to sorf of, catch the pattern of how that all works in here, so I hope to change my mind a bit 😉