Monday, July 25, 2016

Public History Talk on Wednesday 3 August 2016 - Real Modern - Bronwyn Labrum

We’re delighted to welcome Dr Bronwyn Labrum as guest speaker at our lunchtime Public History Talk on Wednesday 3 August 2016:  Is it all just ‘stuff’ and where’s the history? Writing about material culture in 1950s and 1960s New Zealand

 Beautiful catalogues or collections of essays are opening up the rich world of things in our history. But is this the only way to materialise the past? In this illustrated talk Bronwyn Labrum discusses some of the issues arising from her recent book: Real Modern: Everyday New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s, which takes a different tack to typical catalogues and essay collections. It asks what life was really like in those decades through focusing on the things that New Zealanders acquired and desired, that they used at school, work or play, and that they wore and saw around the country. The many objects in the book evoke everyday life and offer key insights into the social, political and cultural history of postwar New Zealand. 

Bronwyn will discuss three particular issues: the process of doing object-based history which attempts to materialise the past and related practices; the interesting and at times difficult practice of researching very recent historical experiences and the objects that are part of them; and her attempts to capture material experiences through text and images in book form rather than an exhibition or a catalogue. She will draw on key objects and themes from Real Modern in order to tease out these issues in the context of other New Zealand and international examples.

About the speaker/author:

Dr Labrum is Head of New Zealand and Pacific Cultures at Te Papa where she leads the History and Pacific Cultures curatorial teams. She is very excited to be back in a public history position as Te Papa is at the beginning of a five year project to replace all its long-term exhibitions. Bronwyn has taught at Victoria, Waikato and Massey universities and is internationally recognised for her many publications on the social and cultural history of New Zealand, the history of clothing and fashion, the history of museums, collecting and exhibitions, and the history of designed objects and artefacts. She is the author of Women’s History: Researching and Writing Women’s History in New Zealand; co-editor of Fragments: New Zealand Social and Cultural History; Looking Flash: Clothing in Aotearoa New Zealand and the best-selling Real Modern: Everyday New Zealand in the 1950s and 1960s (Te Papa Press). She has also published articles and chapters on the history of women, asylums and mental health, the history of welfare services; contributing to significant edited collections and reference works in these areas.

VENUE:  Please join us on Wednesday 3 August in the MBIE Building (formerly the Defence Building) on Stout Street - up the steps by the HOME Café signage.  You will be directed to a meeting room on the ground floor and the talk will commence promptly at 12.15pm.

To listen to many earlier Ministry for Culture and Heritage public history talks please go to: and for more information about MCH regular public history talks please contact

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