What impact can stories and histories of race and religion have on reducing systemic discrimination in society, and creating a climate of hope to replace that of fear? And what is the role of a 21st century museum in addressing these issues?

This is the core question being discussed at In Visible Ink: Beyond Story — an inaugural symposium presented by the Museum of Freedom and Tolerance, in collaboration with the Western Australian Museum.

The two-day event, on Thursday 21 and Friday 22 February, aims to amplify the often invisible stories and lived experiences of Australia’s First Peoples, migrants and refugees. Through presentations and masterclasses an impressive line-up of speakers will discuss prejudice, truth telling, healing and reconciliation, and the ways in which our society can acknowledge shared histories to achieve social change.

WA Museum CEO Alec Coles said the symposium will highlight stories of people and communities marginalised by race and religion, and aims to stimulate public conversation about the way museums can explore and share difficult stories. “It is important for cultural institutions like museums to invite people to share stories that are not always told – stories of belonging, and dispossession, and trauma and hope.

“As a community we need to openly discuss these important stories in order to understand, promote empathy and inspire meaningful social change.

“Public museums provide a forum in which these things can be discussed and explored without rancour – safe places for unsafe stories,” Mr Coles said.

Museum of Freedom and Tolerance CEO Shaheen Hughes said the In Visible Ink symposium had been developed as a step toward positive action.

“The themes in the symposium are powerful and thought provoking. They bring to the fore the many different, and sometimes challenging stories and histories of our nation. Over the two-days we’ll be discussing our shared responsibility to understand these stories and the ways we can share stories of marginalised communities in creative and transformational ways,” Ms Hughes said.

The line-up of speakers demonstrates the shift to broaden historical narratives and better represent marginalised peoples with case studies from around the world.

“The key note speakers include storytellers, artists and educators who have grappled with the process of sharing hidden truths to inspire compassion and change.

“Together, we will engage in conversation about how difficult stories of race and religion are told, how we can make room for these diverse narratives in our collective and cultural memory and harness their power to create change,” Ms Hughes said.

In Visible Ink: Beyond Story presenters include:

• Gina Williams, Balladong, Noongar women, singer/songwriter
• Robert Eggington, Bibbulmum Nyoongah from the South West of Western Australia
• Grace Forrest, founding-director, Walk Free Foundation
• Rabia Siddique, Australian criminal and human rights lawyer
• David Karotkin, Managing Director, Carabiner
• Jay Emmanuel Director, Playwright and Producer
• David Fleming, OBE, President of the UK Museums Association
• Greg Lehman, Tasmanian artist, curator, essayist, poet and commentator
• Professor Jane Lydon, Wesfarmers Chair of Australian History at The University of Western Australia
• Shelagh Magadza, Executive Director of the Chamber for Arts and Culture WA
• Sol Majteles, President of the Holocaust Institute of WA
• Alice A. Procter, art historian and founder of The Exhibitionist pod cast
• Alec Coles, CEO of the Western Australian Museum

For further information, and the full program visit In Visible Ink.


Media Contact
Flora Perrella
Media and Communications Officer
Western Australian Museum