Zoe Graham, CEO and director, Museum of Brisbane

The arts sector can play a really critical role in profiling Brisbane as a vibrant and creative place to visit and live ...

Museum of Brisbane recently celebrated a massive milestone. This year marks 20 years of activity for the leading history and art museum, which has evolved over the years into one of Brisbane’s most beloved cultural institutions. We took the opportunity to speak with Museum of Brisbane’s newly appointed CEO and director Zoe Graham about MoB’s achievements so far and what the future holds for the institution as the city continues to grow and evolve.

Congratulations on your recent appointment as CEO and director of Museum of Brisbane! The Museum recently celebrated 20 years of operation – do you have any fond memories of visiting MoB over the years?
Thank you so much! MoB has produced so many sensational exhibitions over the years, it’s so hard to choose just one. Some of the highlights for me have been The Designer’s Guide: Easton Pearson Archive and 100% Brisbane and more recently World of Wonder: Margot McKinney. I’m a huge fan of the Museum’s Artist in Residence program, supported so generously by Tim and Gina Fairfax, for the way it invites local artists in and activates the Museum in interesting ways.

You have extensive experience working in Queensland’s cultural events sector – what would you say is something that sets Museum of Brisbane apart from other arts-minded institutions?
We’re so fortunate to be in great company in Brisbane with a raft of world-class cultural institutions and arts events. What really sets MoB apart is our celebration of all things Brisbane – we love diving deeply into the diverse and often complex stories of our own city and celebrating the extraordinary talents of local visual artists and creatives.

You must wear a lot of hats in your role as CEO! Can you give us a glimpse into what a typical day at the office looks like for you?
When you’re working in a creative environment like MoB there’s no such thing as a typical day!. I jump from planning sessions with our curatorial team working through exhibition and program ideas, to great conversations with artists and supporters. I also pop through the galleries most days to observe the flow of visitors and chat with the team on the floor.

This year has been huge for Museum of Brisbane on the exhibition front. What projects or milestones are you and the team most proud of achieving?
It has been a big year! We presented the third iteration of BRISBANE ART DESIGN (BAD) with over 225 events across three huge weekends. We launched two stunning exhibitions Clay: Collected Ceramics and most recently Rearranged: Art of the Flower, and welcomed in some of the city’s most creative local artists through our Artist in Residency program including Taloi Havini, Dead Puppet Society, and Pat Hoffie. And, very proudly we picked up two Gallery and Museum Achievement Award’s for Play Moves and our very own Visitor Experience guru, Brian Ogden. Needless to say, the whole team is feeling pretty chuffed.

What can locals expect from Museum of Brisbane’s programming in 2024?
Other than our gorgeous new exhibition Rearranged, which will run right through to the end of winter, you can expect a new season of our historical walking tours of the city, tonnes of colourful school holidays fun and more floral workshops from our friends at Bouquet Boutique. Artists in Residence, Chantal Fraser and Hiromi Tango, will be creating divine technicolour projects unfolding early into 2024. We have so much more to share, so watch this space for our 2024 program announcements.

One of the biggest jobs for a CEO is planning and executing a big-picture vision – what would you say are some of your key long-term goals as CEO and director of Museum of Brisbane?
We have some big aspirations at the Museum. Amongst them, we’ll be looking to connect with more people right across Brisbane, taking us out of the museum and into the community – we’ll find new and exciting ways to work with artists and creatives to tell the stories of our city, and expand the impact of our learning and public engagement programs.

It’s safe to say that there are exciting times ahead for Brisbane leading up to the 2032 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. What role do you hope institutions like Museum of Brisbane will play in deepening and expanding the city’s cultural landscape as Brisbane continues to grow over the next decade and beyond?
With the world’s attention firmly on Brisbane in the lead up to the Games and beyond, the arts sector can play a really critical role in profiling Brisbane as a vibrant and creative place to visit and live. We are so energised by the opportunity and look forward to collaborating with artists and colleagues across the city to create city-wide creative offerings.

Finally, we’d love to know what has been a source of inspiration for you lately? It can be a book, podcast, piece of art, person, or just about anything!
Through my work, I’m constantly surrounded by beautiful art, big ideas, and interesting people. I’m so lucky! But, I am particularly in love with our new exhibition, Rearranged: Art of the Flower. It’s a glorious and peaceful place to spend a quiet moment in.

You can keep track of Museum of Brisbane’s happenings and announcements via the gallery’s website.


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