Dr Jo Wills

Dr Jo Wills is part of the Queensland Museum Network's Museum Development Officer (MDO) Program. She is based in an independent office in Cairns and works with communities throughout far north Queensland.

Jo has been working as an historian, curator and trainer in the museum and built heritage sector for more than 20 years. She believes in the benefits of community engagement and hands on training, and now assists communities throughout far north to manage, interpret and preserve their collections.

Jo undertook her doctoral studies at the University of Tasmania as part of an ARC Linkage Project with the National Museum of Australia (NMA) and the Murray Darling Basin Commission. Her research aimed to improve the way museums work with and engage with communities. She combined her interest in the practice of community engagement with research into museum-based environmental history programs.

As part of her studies, Jo worked with NMA staff to develop, deliver and evaluate four digital photography projects in the Murray Darling Basin (Echuca, Wentworth, Goolwa and Toowoomba) that aimed to raise awareness and engagement with environmental management and history.

Work in regional and remote Queensland provides Jo with the opportunity of exploring her interests in environmental history, identity and storytelling. She has a fascination with the history of the cane industry and tourism, migration stories and, since becoming an MDO, has developed an interest in Torres Strait Islander culture.

Her recent work includes researching and curating Reef Productions: Migrants, makers and merchandise, a temporary exhibition for Cairns Museum which explored the history of a Cairns-based screen printing company in the 1970s/1980s.

Do you have a story to tell? Or do you need a grant, advice or training? For over 20 years Queensland Museum Network in conjunction with Arts Queensland have been running a program that provides people all across Queensland with an opportunity to access museum expertise both virtually and face-to-face.

Find out more about the Museum Development Officer Program here.

Read about Jo’s work as a Museum Development Officer across Queensland here.


Cultures and Histories


Coordinator, Museum Development Officer Program


PhD (University of Tasmania)