Dr Helen Light AM (BA(Hons) 1971, PhDArts 1975)

Dr Helen Light AM

Dr Helen Light AM graduated from Monash University with first class honours in 1970 having studied Classics.

She completed her Doctor of Philosophy in Latin Literature at Monash University in 1975. Dr Light taught Classics in the same department at Monash University before being employed at the University as Assistant Curator in the Gallery and then as Collections Manager.

In early 1983 Dr Light became the first employee at the newly established Jewish Museum of Australia. She continued to work there, first as administrative assistant, then as curator and finally as director from 1991 to 2010.

In those years the staff grew, the Museum moved into its own custom designed premises, hundreds of exhibitions were mounted, a collection was developed, a solid reputation as a model community museum and cultural institution was garnered. Under her leadership the Jewish Museum of Australia was regarded as one of the best medium sized museums in our country and one of the most outstanding Jewish Museums internationally, receiving many awards.

Dr Light held positions of leadership at Museums Australia (Victoria).

She was awarded the Museum Achiever of the Year in 1996 for her work leading The Australian Family, a coalition of 20 Victorian museums and galleries working together.

She received a Churchill Scholarship in 1988 enabling her to visit many Jewish Museums globally assisting her to shape the new Jewish Museum of Australia. She was also awarded a Centenary of Federation Medal in 2001 and an Australia Medal in 2005 for her work with culturally diverse institutions.

Currently Dr Light works as a consultant, championing a project designed to assist ethno-specific community organisations preserve and document their material heritage.

She lectures in Museum Studies at Latrobe University. Dr Light is deeply involved in interfaith and multicultural issues sitting on the boards of the Ethnic Communities’ Council of Victoria; the Jewish Community Council of Victoria; the Faith Communities’ Council of Victoria and the Jewish Christian Muslim Association.

She is also a Trustee of the National Council of Jewish Women, a member of the Advisory Board for the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology Art Gallery and a member of the Advisory Board of the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilization at Monash University.