View of a museum exhibition on climate change on display at the Australian Museum, Sydney

From Museum and Heritage Studies to climate crisis awareness

25 October 2023
Engaging museum audiences with climate change solutions
Before graduating, Museum and Heritage Studies student Lisa McKeever interned at the Australian Museum. She now works for the museum's philanthropy department full-time.

Perhaps it was destiny; perhaps it was her passion for museums. The same museum Lisa McKeever first visited after moving from the United Kingdom five years ago, the Australian Museum in Sydney, also became the host organisation of her internship. Now, the renowned institution is also the museum she works at.

Work placements in the Museum and Heritage Studies postgraduate program serve as formative work-integrated learning experiences, designed to accelerate the career development of its students. The program’s academic and professional staff networks link students in Art Curating and Museum and Heritage Studies to an array of museums, galleries, archives, libraries, and related organisations worldwide.

As a Master of Museum and Heritage Studies student, Lisa undertook an internship at the Australian Museum under the supervision of its Manager of Climate Change Projects. As the Australian Museum is committed to raising climate change awareness, Lisa’s main internship projects all focussed on sharing knowledge on climate change impacts and solutions with its audiences. During her placement, Lisa assisted the research into developing a new touring exhibition. She also assisted a collection storage project and tracked an exhibition's audience engagement. 

For an exhibition development project, Lisa sourced groups and individuals suitable for video interviews to promote Future Now, an innovative touring exhibition. Its aim was to educate audiences on potential climate change solutions. Featuring three pods containing dioramas and video screens, the exhibition showcased climate change solutions across the home, city, and country.

For her research, Lisa delved into newspaper articles, podcasts, and social media posts, as these outlets covered the latest news on this subject. In addition, Lisa joined meetings with other departments to explore collaboration opportunities to deliver a highly successful exhibition. The exhibition is currently touring around NSW.

The exhibition was as intricate as it is significant in spreading awareness of potential climate change solutions.
Lisa McKeever, Master of Museum and Heritage Studies graduate

Audience engagement

Her internship also equipped Lisa with practical skills in audience research for an exhibition titled Changing Climate which is on display in a free permanent gallery. For internal reference, Lisa recorded the visitor foot flow and assessed the effectiveness of the exhibition’s interactive map in attracting younger demographics. To play on the map, children drew their parents or carers into the exhibition space. As a result, adults would then explore the exhibition around it.

Analysing how visitors interact with a space is key to understanding and improving engagement for future exhibitions and programs.
Lisa McKeever

The Australian Museum acquired an artwork titled Echoes Totems by award-winning environmental artist John Dahlsen. Underscoring environmental responsibility, the artwork consisted of multicoloured totems filled with marine debris collected from the Australian coastline. In this collection storage project, Lisa assisted in relocating the works to its permanent location inside the museum's Castle Hill storage facility. Lisa documented the artwork on a collection database and oversaw an extensive relocation process involving many intricate steps with conservationists and specialised art transportation teams. This learning experience illustrated the issue of limited space and the vast nature of museum collections.

The skills I learned through my degree and internships made me develop a deeper understanding of why museums are so important now and for the future. In turn, this perspective helps fuel my work in encouraging others to support the Museum.
Lisa McKeever

Upon reflection, Lisa is particularly thankful that her internship connected her with her supervisor, who shared their expertise with Lisa and provided guidance throughout the placement. Lisa graduated with a Master of Museum and Heritage Studies in 2022. She now works at the Australian Museum’s philanthropy department.

For enquiries about the Museum and Heritage Studies and Art Curating placement program, please contact

This news story has been adapted from an article by Lisa McKeever, Museum and Heritage Studies graduate, for ACE Magazine, Spring 2023 published by the School of Art, Communication and English.

Banner photo: Abram Powell, Australian Museum.

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