June 21, 2018
International Museum Workers Day: A Profile on Resident Historian Konrad Kwiet
Thursday 28 June is International Museum Workers Day. On this day, we recognise our longest serving staff member, Resident Historian Emeritus Professor Konrad Kwiet, whose service to the Sydney Jewish Museum predates its official opening 25 years ago.
Konrad was instrumental in the creation of the historical framework for the Museum during its inception: he was the critical eye that governed the historical accuracy and authenticity of the proposed exhibition content. As the Museum’s collection, professional team and body of knowledge have grown over the years, Konrad has continued to ensure authenticity and best practice of collecting, curating and presenting the historical period of World War II and its aftermath.
Konrad’s academic clout is well-recognised among historians. He was appointed as Chief Historian at the Australian War Crimes Commission (SIU) in the mid-1980s, where he provided invaluable assistance in its belated attempt to bring Holocaust perpetrators residing in Australia to justice. He has read and listened to more than 1,000 testimonies of Holocaust survivors, and has published 10 books and more than 100 articles.
From a historian’s perspective, Konrad maintains that what is more important than teaching people facts, “is making them aware of what they themselves derive or conclude from the facts. We need to build and enhance critical awareness so that people question, try to find answers and develop the capacity to think critically.” Professor Kwiet prides the Museum on its ability to maintain relevance by “providing this trigger to think, question authority, question the past and question tradition.”
The Museum is incredibly fortunate to have had Konrad’s ongoing input on all of its projects, exhibitions and programs, and is perpetually humbled by his immense expertise.
Photograph by Katherine Griffiths.