The museum will “showcase what it means to be a Territorian”. Its Darwin site is chosen, architects are on board but otherwise it's pretty much a $50m blank canvas. A small public meeting in Alice pondered if and how it can serve Central Australia. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
An exhibition on the theme of women architects, town planners and landscape architects in Central Australia ran the risk of being a little thin, feared Anne Scherer when she voluntarily took on the task to mark Australian Women's History Month – March, of course – at the National Pioneer Women's Hall of Fame.
The theme is set nationally by the Australian Women's History Forum. Ms Scherer was well aware of architect Susan Dugdale, whose imprint can be seen in many corners of Alice Springs, but who else? She uncovered quite a diverse history, including the existence of Helen Tippett, likely to have been the first female architect to practice in town, back in the 1950s, after completing her training in Melbourne.
Ms Scherer's research, attractively presented in the women's cell block of the old gaol that houses the Hall of Fame, reminds us of other women who have left their mark in different ways on the built environment of Alice Springs, broadening the terms of the exhibition to include artists such as Cedar Prest, Kaye Kessing, Pip McManus, and Sally Mumford.
Susan Dugdale, who arrived in Alice in 1994, establishing her own practice in 2000, was present at the opening on Sunday. She reflected on what had made her stay – it came down to job satisfaction, being able to make a contribution through her designs to people's lives. She contrasted her last Melbourne job, which was working on a four bedroom house renovation for a couple whose children had left home, with the social purposefulness of many of the projects she has worked on here. KIERAN FINNANE reports.
Pictured, left to right: Creator of the exhibition, Anne Scherer with architects Miriam Wallace and Susan Dugdale.