“Australia has an extraordinary history and as an historian it is my job not only to research that history as accurately as I can, but to tell those stories well and in ways that are accessible to people,” says Professor Grace Karskens. Her work has transformed our understanding of Sydney’s history. Her prizewinning book The Colony: A History of Early Sydney has reached a wide audience, informed museum policy and exhibitions and contributed to the online Dictionary of Sydney and inspired public art.
Another of Karskens’ landmark projects is her work on Sydney’s famous ‘Big Dig’ archaeological site. Working with archaeologists and public authorities, she showed how the study of material culture can profoundly alter our understandings of the 19th century urban past. This research informed museums and guided the interpretation and adaptive reuse of this significant site.
Karskens has also played an active role as an expert advisor for heritage organisations, museums, historical public domain projects, heritage listings, public education, and most recently the design of Australia’s new banknotes.
Professor Karskens writes history that is grounded in places and illuminates the links between past and present. Her work changes the way Australians feel about their past.