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Gandel Philanthropy Partners With National Museum In Defining Moments

15 May 2018 at 2:23 pm
Wendy Williams
A new multi-million dollar partnership between Gandel Philanthropy and the National Museum of Australia promises to take Australian history into classrooms nationwide.

Wendy Williams | 15 May 2018 at 2:23 pm


Gandel Philanthropy Partners With National Museum In Defining Moments
15 May 2018 at 2:23 pm

A new multi-million dollar partnership between Gandel Philanthropy and the National Museum of Australia promises to take Australian history into classrooms nationwide.

Prominent Australian philanthropists John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel have donated $1.5 million in a partnership with the Canberra museum to support a $6.5 million Defining Moments Digital Classroom initiative.

It marks the largest philanthropic gift the National Museum has ever received.

In acknowledgement the National Museum’s Main Hall is being relaunched as the Gandel Atrium – the first time the museum has instituted naming rights in acknowledgement of a gift.

National Museum chair, David Jones, said the support of the Gandels was critical to ensuring the project became a reality.

“Gandel Philanthropy’s vision and far-sighted investment in the understanding of Australian history underpins the Defining Moments Digital Classroom, which will enable the National Museum to build a world class interactive educational resource for teachers and students nationally,” Jones said.

The museum’s headline project explores key moments which have shaped Australian culture and identity, with a “revolutionary” digital classroom which allows students to explore this history via interactive smart boards, iPads, videos, virtual tours, 3D scans and trivia quizzes.

The Gandel’s said they were proud to support the digital classroom which would “connect children in every corner of Australia with our shared past, inspiring their future endeavours”.

They told Pro Bono News the program brought together two areas that they felt passionately about: the arts and culture sector and education.

“Arts and culture has always been one of the key areas of support that we have provided over the years, and in recent times we deliberately targeted various educational initiatives related to our cultural institutions,” they said.

“Combining education with a museum experience supports not only learning by children and students, it also fosters appreciation and interest in cultural institutions and engagement with museums and galleries.

“Through collaborations with institutions like the National Museum of Australia, we are passionately walking the talk, and also hoping to encourage others to join us.”

According to the Gandels, who have jointly distributed more than $100 million dollars to the community since the Gandel family established its first formal philanthropic entity 40 years ago, when choosing which causes to support they follow an overarching strategy set out by their board.

“Gandel Philanthropy is a family foundation in the full sense of the word and, as such, is also able to look for opportunities quickly and be nimble when needed,” they said.

“The other element that is important is partnering, and this is a genuine partnership with the National Museum of Australia, as well as the federal government.

“We look for programs that support initiatives to promote community values and cultural dialogue, we want to foster community cohesion and build community spirit. We want to invest wisely – we look at where we believe we can make the most difference within a community and that is where we direct our funds.”

National Museum director, Dr Mathew Trinca, said this initiative would provide every Australian student with the opportunity to access and explore pivotal moments and objects from Australia’s past.

“The Defining Moments Digital Classroom is a classroom of the future: it will empower teachers with information at their fingertips, while at the same time inspiring young people to embrace history and engage with the nation’s story in new and innovative ways,” Trinca said.

The digital classroom will be aligned to the national curriculum, tailored to year groups and made accessible to classrooms nationally from 2020.

It marks the first nationally comprehensive digital resource that provides custom-designed, versatile Australian history lesson plans to classrooms across the country.

The Gandels said it was important to take Australian history into classrooms.

“We can only know where we are going if we truly know where we have come from. One of the biggest blessings for this country has been its multicultural nature, but this also means many new and emerging communities may not know, or have a chance to learn, about the history of this nation,” they said.

“This project has the potential to fundamentally address this for all schoolchildren in Australia, helping them not only learn about the past but also shape our future.

“This program not only makes Australian history accessible to students across the country, it also uses technology to engage children of today who are all digital natives – to help them learn, explore and communicate.”

As part of the initiative, the Defining Moments project invites Australians to suggest their own “moments” to add to the growing online list.

The Gandel’s said it was “difficult to say” what they would add.

“But perhaps one of the things that would be of interest is the fact that Australia is the country that accepted the highest number of Holocaust survivors, per capita, after the Second World War,” they said.

“That generation and their offspring, have, in our view contributed immensely to the success of this nation and we think that is a ‘defining moment’ worth noting.”

Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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