Love Brisbane: Belonging to Brisbane - Museum of Brisbane
Updated: 23 March 2022
The Museum of Brisbane created a sense of home and fulfilled a dream for Japanese student Asuka Shiraishi.
A childhood wish to work in a museum prompted Asuka Shiraishi, 26, to apply for a tour guide role with the Museum of Brisbane (MoB) visitor experience team.
“For me, museums are a safe, exploratory space where I can walk in and am left to my own devices to find out about the arts, science or history,” Asuka explains.
“I always like discovering something that I didn’t learn in school or textbooks, which is where my curiosity about museums started.”
Arriving from Japan in 2019 to study community development in Brisbane, Asuka says she knew very little about her adopted city until she began working at MoB in April 2021.
“I was embarrassingly unaware of Brisbane and its history until I began working at the Museum and started educating myself about where I live. I’m learning so much in such a short time, I feel like a nerd,” she laughs.
MoB opened in 2003 on the ground floor of Brisbane City Hall before the building underwent a major restoration project between 2010 and 2013 and the Museum temporarily moved to Ann Street.
MoB reopened in April 2013 within a purpose-built gallery space on Level 3 of City Hall and regularly hosts a curated selection of cultural and historic themed exhibitions that highlight the past, present and future of Brisbane, its people and the unique lifestyle.
“The Museum contributes to The City community by amplifying the unique voices and stories that are sometimes hidden through our exhibitions and tours,” Asuka says.
“The City is a central meeting place for lots of people, not just from Brisbane, but Queensland, Australia and around the world. I enjoy meeting different people with different backgrounds in The City and sharing the hidden gems of Brisbane with them.”
Working as a tour guide during a pandemic meant the MoB visitor experience team had to get creative about community and artist outreach by turning a difficult time into an opportunity.
While in-person visitor numbers were restricted or capped, MoB stayed open and provided public tours and access in a safe way, including digital options such as virtual tours and enhanced online galleries. More outdoor walking and boat tours were added and the MoB tour guides discovered new ways to safely conduct their site tours.
“It led to a whole new learning experience of discovering nooks and crannies in City Hall and the Museum where we can stop and discuss the exhibition, so that has been a challenge but a great opportunity as well to find new ways that are viable and inclusive,” Asuka says.
“We also offer a Brisbane City Walking Tour: Past and Present, which is essentially a tour where we leave the confines of the Museum and physically get out there to walk around and look for and discuss the history of The City.”
The beloved MoB shop of locally made wares continued to trade online, which led to increased sales, and the Museum commissioned works by artists who were finding it difficult to work during this uncertain time.
Last year, MoB also launched a new publication, SUNNIE magazine, which continues to support, connect and share the work of creators throughout the city.
As international and interstate borders reopen and visitors return to The City, Asuka looks forward to welcoming curious locals and travellers on MoB tours to share different and interesting perspectives of Brisbane’s history and development.
“One of the highlights of working in the Museum of Brisbane is being able to share stories and history through our exhibitions and tours,” Asuka says.
“I really love taking people on my tours and seeing that ‘aha’ moment on their faces.”
“When we take school student groups for tours and workshops, you can see that history is making sense in their minds and they are connecting the dots – that is absolutely my favourite moment.”
“We are very excited to be open and see more people visiting The City and Museum of Brisbane.”