This paper (relating to one chapter of my thesis) will explore the activities and directions of the National Gallery of Australia (NGA) in the period from the late 1980s to 2003. In doing so, it will investigate how the Gallery has responded to new museological thought. Some of this new thinking has responded to theorists like Michel Foucault who, for example, rejected the approach of the 'observing subject' which 'places its own point of view at the origin of all historicity'. Seeking to describe how 'games of truth' operate within and around cultural institutions, the 'new museology' aims to explore new ways for cultural activity to move beyond traditional specialist or so-called elitist audiences. For the NGA, there has been a particular impetus to develop new audiences and a desire has recently been expressed for public debate a forum that would potentially open this museum up to new participative and democratic engagement with its communities. In this context I will explore the role of the discipline of art history and of museological theory and practice in the NGA, their function as metanarratives within the institution, and the complex relationship they have with the idea of a 'new museum'. Can (or should) the canons of the art museum survive in the 'new museum'?
UNCOVER: Graduate Research in the Museum Sector conference . Proceedings of UNCOVER Conference 2003 (Sydney 2003)