NOOSA – Dr Barry Craig worked in the Telefomin area of Papua New Guinea and at the National Museum and Art Gallery in Port Moresby before moving to the South Australian Museum as curator of foreign ethnology, where he’s been for the past 22 years.
Strange as it may seem, the South Australian Museum has on permanent display a significant collection of objects from Papua New Guinea. It’s a real treasure.
But now it turns out that Dr Craig’s position, along with one in archaeology, has been abolished.
This leaves the Pacific collections and the Pacific Cultures Gallery without an experienced and qualified researcher and interpreter.
Dr Craig is slated to leave the museum three days before Christmas. He won’t be replaced and will be relocated elsewhere in the public service.
After acquiring a degree in Anthropology and a Diploma of Education in the early 1960s, Barry spent three years teaching at Telefomin, undertaking research on the culture of the region in his spare time.
In 1972–1973, after continuing his academic career in the USA, Barry did fieldwork in the upper Sepik and later became curator of anthropology at the PNG National Museum in 1980. He was appointed Curator of Foreign Ethnology at the South Australian Museum in 1995.
There is a considerable irony that Dr Craig has lost his job at the museum just as Australia is being urged to engage more with the Pacific.
The Pacific is a region where our presence has been more paternalistic than collegiate and where we have signally failed to show we are really interested in the region except as a strategic and commercial asset.
Readers who feel that the South Australian Museum is taking a big backwards step in getting rid of the expertise represented by Mr Craig are asked to communicate their concern to one or more of these people:
Jane Lomax-Smith, Chair of the Board of the South Australian Museum
Brian Oldman, Director, South Australian Museum
Dr John Carty, Head of Humanities, South Australian Museum