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The Great Exhibitions and their Lost Indigenous Objects

The Great Exhibitions and their Lost Indigenous Objects

Project Description

Professor Sculthorpe will lead a collaborative research project to rediscover Australian Indigenous objects sent overseas to the Great Exhibitions of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Through collaborative work at community discussions, the project will repatriate knowledge and remake connections between objects, museums and Indigenous people, and bring contemporary Indigenous perspectives to global attention.

The research project aims to:

  • systematically investigate and inventory for the first time all the known Indigenous objects sent to international exhibitions between 1851 and 1937
  • Contextualise and analyse the collecting, display and representations of Indigenous objects and people at the Great Exhibitions, and especially the role of Indigenous people in this process
  • Remake connections between the objects and their Knowledge-holders/stakeholders where possible, sending cultural knowledge back to First Nations people
  • Advance museological theory and practice by considering how objects with little origin can be managed, used and interpreted today, working through dialogue with Indigenous people to do so, and
  • Contribute to Australian and international debates and policy about management and repatriation of objects in international museums collected in colonial eras.

Project Funding

This is an ARC Discovery Indigenous project that is funded by the Australian Research Council.


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