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Memento : Issue 29
bores. The cloud seeding story is illustrated by a real cloud seeding torpedo and a pile of salt harvested from the Murray River lies next to the story about salinity. Just Add Water also includes three interactive exhibits which fit within current debates about water management rather than focusing on historical stories. One exhibit encourages visitors to respond to a question about a local water issue. Each time the exhibition moves to another venue, these answers will be passed on to the relevant local water authority. Another exhibit, devised by CSIRO, asks visitors a series of questions about how they value water. The responses will be collected and used for research. The third exhibit is a large interactive water management game. To play, visitors have to work out how to keep three different water system users happy, whilst simultaneously maintaining a sustainable river system. So how are these more contemporary exhibits relevant to the Archives? The Archives’ collection is not just a series of individual documents or even a series of documents about one topic. It’s a dynamic collection of documents that interact with one another – the question, the answer, the proposal, the report, the drafts, the comments, the rejections, the acceptance. These documents provide us with a way of accessing the past – the arguments, debates and conversations about major and minor issues in Australian life over the last 100 years. And the arguments, debates and conversations rarely end in the past. In relation to water management, for example, a whole range of digital and paper records about our most precious resource continue to accumulate; and some of them will end up in the Archives’ collection. And when they do, they will connect with the documents and conversations already in our care – some of which feature in Just Add Water. Including current debates in our exhibitions reminds us that the Archives is not a static historic collection, but a continuing collector of current issues. It alerts visitors to how essential the Archives is in recording the debates of contemporary society and highlights the continuing significance of our current collecting and preservation activities. Who knows, some of your responses to CSIRO’s questions in Just Add Water may well end up in the Archives’ collection!’ (inset left) Mr Boots checks his rain gauge. NAA: A613, K4/4/79/2 (inset right) Adelaide River, Northern Territory, 1974. NAA: A6135, K27/2/74/38 (large image) The grandchildren of the Administrator of the Northern Territory, CLA Abbott, playing with water, Toorak, Melbourne, 1950s. NAA: M10, 4/70 Autumn–Winter 2005 MEMENTO 17