Liz Suda

Digging up the past with archaeology at Museum Victoria

Museum Victoria offers opportunities for teachers in Victoria to engage with Archaeology as another form of evidence within the skills of historical investigation in the study of History. Archaeological principles, the use of objects and artefacts, have been incorporated into the delivery of a number of Humanities programs linked to the Melbourne Story and Bunjilaka, the Aboriginal Culture Centre at Melbourne Museum and the cross cultural exhibitions of the Immigration Museum.

Urban archaeology offers a unique insight into a city’s past. Melbourne Museum’s A Load of Old Rubbish program for Year 7 focuses on the use of archaeology in The Melbourne Story: Little Lon section of the museum. This immersive space is the result of an extensive archaeological excavation that occurred in the inner city of Melbourne at the turn of this century. Other programs draw on the knowledge gained through such excavations to explore the artefacts from different periods of Melbourne’s history.

The cultural, spiritual and technological practices of the First People in Australia is explored in the Our Shared History program which uses archaeological principles in engaging with objects and artefacts used by First People in the past and the present. Archaeological practice continues to uncover unknown aspects of the early history of Australia.

Further to this, recent touring hall exhibitions at Melbourne Museum (A Day in Pompeii, Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia) have afforded the opportunity to incorporate educational programs and resources to support the inclusion of archaeological practice in school classrooms across Australia. These developments have positioned Museum Victoria as a key provider of resources that can be used in the teaching of archaeological practices and their application in the teaching of history in Victoria, and indeed Australia given the emphasis in the Australian Curriculum on archaeological practice.

This presentation will showcase the initiatives currently underway at Museum Victoria, and hopefully contribute to a dialogue around approaches in the teaching of History that focus on archaeological practice.

Melbourne Museum (VIC)


Liz is Humanities Educator at Melbourne Museum. She has worked in secondary schools as a Humanities teacher, as an adult literacy educator in the community and university sector; as well as a community educator linking schools with community before coming to Melbourne Museum. Liz has a strong grounding in educational theory having completed a Master of Education degree in 1992. This theoretical base has informed her practice since as a reflective practitioner in a range of settings. Since coming to the Museum, Liz has turned her attention to the practice of teaching history using museum resources. Melbourne Museum has hosted three major exhibitions that have an archaeological focus, namely A Day in Pompeii, Tutankhamen and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia, which prompted a hands-on approach to using archaeological objects in the construction of historical narratives. The Melbourne Story exhibition has also used material uncovered from an archaeological dig to piece together a story about life in one notorious street of nineteenth-century Melbourne – Little Lonsdale Street. These exhibitions have stimulated an interest in how artefacts can be used as a form of primary evidence in the history classroom using an interactive, problem-posing, hands-on approach that puts students at the centre of learning.