Introducing Charla Strelan, Our Newly Appointed Curator of the Marks Hirschfeld Museum of Medical History

I am very excited to be appointed Curator of the Marks Hirschfeld Museum of Medical History and am greatly looking forward to getting started.

First, something of my work history. I trained as an anthropologist and a linguist and worked for 12 years as a native title anthropologist in the Northern Territory and Central Desert. I segued into the museum and gallery sector in 2012 when I joined the UQ Anthropology Museum as a curatorial officer and recently have been the curator of the Supreme Court’s legal heritage collection. 

I see anthropology and museums as a natural pairing. Anthropological method invites people to be curious about society, human culture and history, and it’s a wonderful lens through which to view any museum collection. Although I admit to loving databases, cataloguing and orderly shelving, finding the socio-cultural dimensions behind objects and using objects as a way of understanding our shared history is where my true passion for museums lies.

I see the magic of museums very much as an author might see a book—we may present objects with a certain narrative in mind, but ultimately meaning is given by the audience, often in unique and unexpected ways. It's always a pleasure to open a collection to the public.

I am a voracious reader, but like many of my kind, find myself with too many books and not enough time. I enjoy mostly literary fiction and have a large collection of realist and modernist writers with a healthy dose of existentialism. Of more contemporary works, I enjoy Iris Murdoch and Ian McEwan, although I primarily only read things that are older than I am. I’m also a fan of fabulous poetry.

Some of the many joys I find outside of a museum include birdwatching, swing dancing, art history, open water swimming, bread making, blues harmonica, bushwalking, cocktail shaking, trying new foods, languages, stargazing and hanging out with my gorgeous family. 




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