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Garment display Green glass display Stack of booksButterfly collection

     Gillian examining brass plate inscription on a ski

       Gillian Kelly examining brass plate
       inscriptions on early Australian skis


     Early Australian ski stock

       Early Australian ski stocks

     Veronica and Nicole discussing aircraft supporting documentation

       Veronica discussing supporting
       documentation with Nicole Fransen
       for her statement of significance
       about an aircraft

     Ros showing Mary Clare Significance 2.0

       Ros showing Dr Mare Clare
       Swete Kelly a relevant part 
       in the Significance 2.0 book

     Using a magnifying glass

It helps to use a magnifiying glass when
examining objects

     Roslyn explaining social significance to Terri Keck

Roslyn explaining social significance to Terri Keck

     Graeme Powell and Veronica examining framed map

Graeme Powell and Veronica examining a framed map

     Veronica in discussion with Graeme Powell

Veronica in discussion with Graeme Powell

     Nicole Fransen and Veronica reviewing Nicole's statement of significance

Nicole Fransen and Veronica reviewing Nicole's statement of significance

      Roslyn and Veronica finding humour in a text

Roslyn and Veronica enjoying a discussion on significance


Veronica and Roslyn would like to thank attendees for really engaging with the topics of significance, conservation, and collection management, and for sharing their own knowledge, objects, and experience with all present.

The scenarios described and questions raised by attendees reflected their diverse backgrounds. 

We very much enjoyed delivering this workshop.

Black and white photographs on this webpage were taken by Andrew Sikorski, Art Atelier, Australia +61 (0)411 451 617

Click here to read a draft statement of significance for a postcard album, and click here to read a draft statement of significance for a set of coins, both from the 2011 Workshop.

Significance Workshop Report

How did the workshop go?

On 10 and 11 November 2010 Significance International held its inaugural Sustainable Collections Workshop on Significance Assessment in Canberra, Australia. Presenters and attendees alike were very pleased with event, held at the Australian National University.

The six participants came from as far as Western Australia and Queensland and had diverse backgrounds: archaeologist, manuscripts librarian, freelance historian, collections advisor and public and private museum managers.

Most hadn’t prepared a significance assessment before, but all were aware of the importance of using significance assessment to define collection characteristics and priority needs.

Those with prior experience used this opportunity to seek guidance from Roslyn and Veronica on difficulties they had encountered in their work, as well as to hone their skills in preparing and writing the statement of significance.

Two short readings were sent electronically to registered attendees in advance of the workshop. These eloquent articles underpinned some of the learnings and provided points for discussion across the two days.

One of the aims of the workshop was to convey a ‘conservation sensibility’ when working with original material. Information about material characteristics was provided for items in both the ‘simulated collection’ and those brought by participants for study purposes. Conservation study and working aids were provided, and methods were explained and practiced.

On the first day most participants opted to accompany Roslyn to the updated Classics Department display in the A.D. Hope building - a five minute walk away. The unanimous opinion was that the new display is very appealing and informative.

Each participant kindly completed an evaluation form about the workshop experience. As an inaugural event we sought genuine feedback on all aspects of the event from intellectual content and flow, to quality and quantity of the designed activities and presentation formats, right through to matters of catering, venue, fees ($500 plus GST), and administrative communications.

We were overwhelmed by the positive response to our evaluation questions. For the few items scoring less than an 8 on the optional grading scale of 1 to 10  (where 10 represents the best possible result), we have taken note and have begun to revise these parts e.g. one session will be restructured and venue alternatives will be investigated (one person expressed difficulty in finding the venue on the university campus, and another in finding a car parking spot). 

Comments from the evaluations best illustrate the mood and outcomes of the workshop. Here is a selection.

‘Some real clarification of some broader issues, and a change in my focus on how to ‘manage’ a collection. Professional development on conservation matters and principles. Great networking opportunity’

'Great presentation. Appreciate the structure and format. Good to set time frames and stick to them. Very informative and appreciate the wealth of professionalism offered’

‘I now understand significance and how to apply it’

‘Both presenters were very knowledgeable and willing to share their expertise. Found both very approachable and eager to answer questions.’

‘A clearer direction on managing our particular situation’

‘I have really enjoyed this and enjoyed talking with the others’

‘Facilities and refreshments were ample and well spaced’; ‘Food and drinks were well provided and breaks at good intervals. Good that lunch was flexible’; ‘Well done! Just right’

‘Excellent value for money. I feel the course was money well spent!’; ‘Really great content for fee’; ‘Good value for money. Good to have the experts to answer questions and discuss issues’

‘Excellent venue’; ‘Great venue’

[re Communcations] ‘Very prompt responses. Helpful information’ ‘Spot on – nothing left out’



Session 1
Introductory remarks
Session 2
Exploring the significance concept
[group work: brain storm, discussion of readings]
Session 3
The simulated collection
[individual work: primary sources of information; provenance]
Session 4
Historic themes
[group work: the value of using frameworks]
Session 5
Your object / museum
[individual presentation: primary source of information]

Session 6
Concluding remarks

Session 1
Session 2
Overview of significance assessment – Significance 2.0
[powerpoint presentation: preparing to write a statement of significance]
Session 3
Statement of significance
[individual work:  first draft then review]
Session 4
Statement of significance
[individual work:  second draft]
Session 5
Whole collection assessment
[presentation:  problems encountered]

Session 6
Concluding remarks and presentation of Certificates of Completion

At the end of this two-day workshop we stated that participants would be able to:  
  • better understand the 'primary source' value of objects and collections
  • integrate the multiple meanings of collections into broader historic themes
  • successfully apply the 'Australian method' for significance assessment, including generating a 'statement of significance' for an object
  • confidently approach whole collection significance assessment

We look forward to meeting you at one of our Sustainable Collections Workshops - either in Significance Assessment or Risk Management for Collecting Organisations.

Sign up here to be notified of future workshop events.

     Roslyn discussing crockery with Elaine

        Roslyn discussing 1954 Royal Visit
        crockery with Elaine Labuschagne


     Nicole writing a statement of significance for an aircraft

       Nicole Fransen writing a statement
       of significance for an aircraft


     Graeme examining a framed map with a magnifier

       Graeme Powell examining a framed
       map with a magnifying glass


     Veronica advising on conservation features of chain and laid paper

       Veronica describing the features of
       chain and laid paper


     Mary Clare viewing framed certificate

       Mary Clare Swete Kelly considering a
       framed certificate before writing a
       statement of significance for it


     Elaine conducting book research

       Elaine Labuschagne researching
       1954 Royal Visit crockery


     Terri drafting a statement of significance for a compendium of letters

       Terri Keck drafting a statement of
       significance for a compendium of


     Roslyn and Veronica discussing Australia's Historic Themes

Roslyn and Veronica discussing Australia's
Historic Themes Framework


     Roslyn guiding Mary Clare in writing a statement of significance

Roslyn guiding Mary Clare Swete Kelly in writing a statement of significance using the Significance 2.0 Summary Card


     At work on a statement of significance

At work on a statement of significance


     Veronica and Nicole examining supporting documentation

Veronica and Nicole Fransen examining supporting documentation


     Gillian using Significance 2.0 while drafting a statement of significance for skis

Gillian Kelly using Significance 2.0 to draft a statement of significance for skis


     Graeme writing a statement of significance

       Graeme Powell writing a statement
       of significance for a framed map