Through her work in museums, heritage, advocacy and sporting organisations, universities and professional associations, Margaret Birtley has over 40 years of professional experience in the not-for-profit sector. She established Margaret Birtley Consulting in 2010 and became an Associate of Significance International Pty Ltd in 2013.
As an educator, Margaret lectured first in early medieval languages, and later in Museum Studies. She has held honorary roles with the University of South Australia and Deakin University, and now offers training services through her consultancy business.
As a researcher and advisor, Margaret directed A Study into the Key Needs of Collecting Institutions in the Heritage Sector (2002) and contributed to Conservation Survey 2006 and the National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries (2008). She coordinated Closed by COVID-19? A Practice Guide for managers of heritage collection that are closed at short notice because of an epidemic or pandemic (2020). She is an expert ‘Detailed Assessor’ for the Australian Research Council and a member of the National Collection Advisory Panel for Singapore’s National Heritage Board.
As a manager and leader, Margaret established a secretariat for the Collections Council of Australia Ltd and served from 2005 to 2010 as CEO and Company Secretary to the Board. While with the Collections Council, she helped inaugurate Blue Shield Australia (an equivalent of the Red Cross for cultural heritage) and organised many projects and events, including a Summit on digital heritage collections. As the General Manager Heritage and Tourism at the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) from 2010 to 2013, she was responsible for the National Sports Museum and Melbourne Cricket Ground Tours as well as the MCC’s archives, library and museum. She served as Executive Officer for the Victorian Branch of the Museums Association of Australia (1987-1990) and for the History Council of Victoria (2013-2020).
As a museum practitioner, Margaret was employed as Manager of Visitor Programs at Scienceworks from 1990 to 1994. She has undertaken a number of voluntary roles with museums, boards and committees, including leadership roles with professional associations. She has provided advice to governments through appointment to several state, national and international advisory committees. She helped Museums Australia to shape a new definition of ‘museum’, and to write its pioneering guidelines on sustainability – a topic of enduring relevance to the operation of all organisations.
Margaret has completed the Australian Museum Leadership Program. She holds a Graduate Certificate of Management and a Certificate in Governance for Not-for-Profits. She actively maintains her professional knowledge through membership of relevant professional associations, and by attending seminars and conferences.
On Australia Day 2017, Margaret was honoured with the award of Member in the General Division of the Order of Australia (AM) ‘for significant service to cultural heritage, particularly to the museums sector, to education, and to historical preservation’.
For detailed information about Margaret’s career, please explore the linked pages via the left-hand side of the screen.