My name is Peter Gesner and I call my consultancy ‘e-Storiador’ because it is an engaging play on historiador –istor’jador or eestor’jador- the Spanish word for historian. It combines ‘historiador’ with the letter ‘e’, because the ‘H’ isn’t pronounced or aspirated by native Spanish speakers but made to sound (to Anglicised ears) like there’s an ‘e’ at the beginning. As such it’s a nod at the letter ‘e’ – as the recognised signifier of this electronic age we live in and the digital tools used in modern communication. Of course it amounts to the same: I am a person who ‘studies History and/or who writes works of history or who works in Public History’ (museums) AND who delivers content in electronic format.
I still do this in a professional capacity, although I am no longer in full-time employment. My qualifications are in History and Archaeology –from the University of Amsterdam and Curtin University in Western Australia. I have a professional background in Australian maritime archaeology, having been a curator (at various levels) in the Queensland Museum (QM) for 25 years; followed by a contract as ‘Curator special projects’ at the Australian National Maritime Museum (ANMM)
My track record is linked with the development of the QM’s maritime history/ heritage program and collection. As ‘senior State practitioner’ I managed the QM’s maritime heritage program from August 1994 to 30 June 2009. To date my most significant career achievement has been the QM’s expanded Pandora shipwreck project, referred to as Pandora Project Stage 2 and involving the archaeological recovery, conservation and display of a representative collection of objects from the Pandora historic shipwreck.
As leader of that project during the 1990s I planned, mobilised and directed 6 major marine archaeological expeditions to the Pandora wreck site in Far North Gt. Barrier Reef (GBR) waters. As a result of this fieldwork a large artefact collection was made. My museum duties ‘back-of-house’ included responsibility for accessioning, for description, for exhibition development and interpretation of this collection.
Community interest in the Pandora Project -in particular the success of the Pandora Foundation in fund-raising (A$ 2 million) for fieldwork and conservation – resulted in the Queensland government funded (A$20 million) expansion of the QM’s North Queensland campus: the Museum of Tropical Queensland (MTQ) in Townsville as the ‘Home of the Pandora’. I wrote the exhibition and curatorial briefs, developed concepts and storylines and coordinated and supervised a curatorial team researching content for the QM’s new (900 m²) Pandora Gallery.
As senior curator of the QM’s Maritime Heritage – and Pandora collection, my responsibilities also included day-to-day management of matters relating to the implementation in Queensland of the Australian National Maritime Heritage – and Historic Shipwrecks Program.
Language skills and research experience: English, Dutch, French and German
Foreign language /archives overseas: ARA, The Hague (VOC Archief), Provinciaal Archief Zeeland, Provinciaal Archief Friesland, Stadsarchief Amsterdam (Dutch) Centre des Archives Diplomatique de Nantes, League of Nations Archive UN Geneva (French/English) The National Archives, Kew ; National Archives & Records Administration (Washington DC)
Australian libraries and archives: Mitchell Library (SLNSW) Australian Archives (NSW and Queensland), Qld State Archives, Tasmania State Archives, NSW State Archives, John Oxley Library (SLQ) National Library of Australia.
-Macquarie Lighthouse (First Australian lighthouse) (Australian National Maritime Museum)
-Bridging trouble waters: The RAN Bridging Train and the Douglas Ballantyne Fraser Collection (ANMM)
Current projects: I have retained an interest in interpretative outcomes from further investigation of the Pandora voyage story and archaeological collection, hence this ‘reverse genealogy’ project ‘Dead man secrets’.
Building on experience gained as a graduate student in the Dutch East India Co Archives (VOC/ARA) in The Hague, I am currently also researching primary Dutch language sources from Cape Town pertaining to ships of the early ‘Botany Bay fleets’ which put in at the Cape on their voyage to New South Wales.