Monday, 6 May 2013

of exploring the city: TEDxAdelaide, Part One

Once we had registered for TEDxAdelaide, participants were invited to sign up for one or more walks through the city. On a day whose theme was 'Explore', the invitation was to explore the spaces in our city.

Options included tours of the tunnels and Haigh's chocolate factory, among other things. I chose a tour of the Migration Museum, as I've never been there before, and it seemed to me there might be some stories to discover there. This was scheduled for late in the morning, so first, I downloaded the stereopublic app to my phone and explored the city for some quiet spaces.


The very act of stopping invited me to pay attention - as I did, I heard voices, families enjoying each other's company; noticed the ebb and flow of traffic, discovering the spaces, the stillness, between the movement; heard, saw, felt the beating wings of twenty-odd pigeons taking flight off the side of a building; marvelled at the play of the sun and shade, the architecture, a lone pigeon huddling into the wall. And inside, too, the silent delights of a rare books shop ...


At the Migration Museum, I was struck by the tangible signs we leave behind for our descendants, for those who come after us, to hold on to, holding on to us and forging connections through time. The embodied nature of our being makes museums still important holders of those memories and connections in the midst of such a virtual, screen-dominated world.
In Museums, we walk through spaces, we see (even if we cannot actually hold) those tangible sign of the ones who went before us (and note the tension of privilege with its abundance of tangible relics, and poverty, with its gaping lack) - we enter the stories, physically, with all our senses. In the room telling the story of Stuart, an explorer of South Australia, a scottish voice reads snippets of Stuart's journal, bringing him to life. There is artistry in the curated spaces; there are interactive displays that invite us to uncover the stories. And as you move about, there are reminders that this place, too, has its own story - the asylum housed in some of the buildings, the police barracks in others, and beneath, the land that belonged to the Kaurna people. (I love the way the story of Indigenous Australians is woven into the story of migrants to this land, a once ignored and forgotten story now told with honesty and respect).
I'm hooked. I will go back to explore these stories some more.

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