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Published June 4th 2017
Make your vote count again
The Centre of Democracy on North Terrace in Adelaide
The free Centre of Democracy is South Australia's newest museum, housed in the Institute building on North Terrace at the heart of the cultural precinct in Adelaide. It's not really a museum in the traditional sense, with rows of dusty display cases full of butterflies on pins. Instead it aims to be an interactive and thoughtful experience for its visitors, intellectually challenging our perceptions and beliefs.
The main focus for the Centre of Democracy is of course politics. Politics can be dry, dull and boring as we all know. However politics is also about ways of life. It's about beliefs and issues. About culture and conviction. History and culture are also essential ingredients in how our democracy works, and what it delivers for us. You will find all of these examined interactively at the Centre of Democracy.
This new free institution (I'm not sure 'museum' is the right word) examines the history of South Australia by looking at the key players and the issues. It examines how democracy evolved, what it meant for indigenous people, and how the right to have a say became more widespread. Controversial issues are explored, and you're encouraged to develop opinions and have your say.
The Centre of Democracy is not a highbrow place for academics, or a refuge for the Dean Jaensch's and Antony Greens of election night fame. It's a place for everyone (including families with children) to come. In fact parts of the program are explicitly targeted to be fun for kids, although all visitors are engaged.
The displays are simply presented, colourful, topical, and often interactive. See Don Dunstan's iconic pink shorts and Dame Roma Mitchell's spectacles, listen to a lecture, meet key players from the past on the interactive wall, take part in the activities for kids, or vote at the Democracy Machine.
A hundred years ago there was a Speakers Corner in Adelaide, where citizens could help shape their future in a democratic way. Ironically that Speakers Corner in Botanic Park has now been taken over by bats, but the Centre of Democracy offers you a new Speakers Corner, a 21st century way of taking part in the democratic process.
Protest in South Australia has always been a part of the democracy, and this topic is covered from multiple angles here. You may even discover some strange stories as you explore the history of our democracy at this new institution.
You can find the Centre of Democracy in Adelaide at the corner of North Terrace and Kintore Avenue, in the Institute building. It's a joint venture between the State Library of South Australia and the History Trust, and is open every day except public holidays. It's set in a compact location which makes it more engaging, and the friendly staff are quick to help you explore.
Use Digital Technology to Explore Democracy in the History of South Australia
There is a rolling timetable of events which you can find on the Centre of Democracy Facebook page, or visit the website to see some of the interesting objects in their collection. Take a break from your shopping at nearby Rundle Mall and stop by for a refreshing change of view at Adelaide's newest free museum. You may come away feeling enlightened!