2016 Megaw Lecture

Flinders University Art Museum with the Department of Archaeology present:

Participant processes: Museums, collections and the creation of value

Distinguished Professor Howard Morphy
College of Arts and Social Sciences, Australian National University

The objects in museum collections are signs and symptoms of history but they are also a rich resource for future dialogues and for changing understandings in the present. Consciously or unconsciously museums are engaged in value creation processes that influence attitudes to the objects they contain and to the people who produced them. The very act of collecting is an acknowledgement of value, but over time the value of objects changes. Museums and galleries have played a central role in this process of change in which the significance and very categorisation of their collections may be transformed.

In acknowledgement of the leading role Vincent Megaw has played in the academy’s dialogue with categories, in this lecture I will reflect on my own role in value creation processes.


Howard Morphy is Distinguished Professor of Anthropology in the Research School of Humanities and the Arts at the Australian National University. He is an anthropologist of art and visual anthropology with a major theoretical focus on the nature of cross-cultural categories. His most recent book is Becoming Art: Exploring Cross-Cultural Categories (2007). With Frances Morphy he has worked closely with Yolngu people for over forty years. His involvement in e-research and in the development of museum exhibitions reflects his determination to make humanities research as accessible as possible to wider publics and to close the distance between the research process and research outcomes. He is currently working with colleagues at the British Museum and the National Museum of Australia on the concept of the relational museum, linking distributed collections to source communities.

Toas of the Lake Eyre region, Collection of South Australian Museum

Thursday 16 June 2016

North Lecture Theatre 1 
Humanities Building
Flinders University

The Ruth and Vincent Megaw Annual lecture in Archaeology and Art was established in 2014 to honour the commitment and contributions of Emeritus Professor Vincent Megaw and his late wife Dr M Ruth Megaw to the Flinders University Archaeology department and the Flinders University Art Museum. The lecture is supported by the Office of the Vice-Chancellor, the Faculty of Education, Humanities and Law and the School of Humanities and Creative Arts, Flinders University.

2018 Megaw Lecture – Professor Thomas Stöllner

2017 Megaw Lecture – Associate Professor Dr. Sonya Atalay

2016 Megaw Lecture – Professor Howard Morphy

2015 Megaw Lecture – Dr. Danie Mellor

2014 Megaw Lecture – Emeritus Professor Dr. Brian Fagan