Alfred Deakin Institute
The Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation (ADI) is a leading humanities and social sciences research institute based at Deakin University, Australia. Our researchers aim to understand the complex meanings of citizenship, social inclusion and globalisation, and investigate the imp


Collecting the West

In the last 400 years, objects from Western Australia have circulated through global, national and local collecting networks. Some of the first objects through which Europeans imagined Australia came from Western Australia.

Shells collected by William Dampier in 1699 went to the Ashmolean museum in Oxford and The British Museum. The inscribed plate left by Dirk Hartog on a small island off the westernmost part of Australia in 1616 was found by De Vlamingh in 1697 and taken to Batavia (Jakarta). It is now held in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

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This project led by researchers from Deakin University and The University of Western Australia partners with Western Australia’s key cultural institutions including the Western Australian Museum, the State Library of Western Australia and the Art Gallery Of Western Australia, as well as the British Museum.

It seeks to answer questions such as:

  • What images of Australia did these fragments from Western Australia present to the world?

  • How did these growing collections eventually inform Western Australian identity, shape its written history, collective memory and sense of place?

  • What new understanding of Western Australia emerges from a critical study of collecting?

Project Team

Project co-leaders

Professor Alistair Paterson (University of Western Australia)

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Professor Andrea Witcomb (Alfred Deakin Institute)

We're a multi-disciplinary team of researchers with backgrounds across the natural and social sciences, arts and humanities. Our specialty areas include archaeology, art history, biodiversity, ethnography, history, maritime and museum studies. Find out more.

Project Partners

British Museum

State Library of Western Australia

West Australian Museum

Art Gallery of Western Australia

Project Funding

This project is funded by an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage Projects Scheme. Linkage Project (2016–2020) LP160100078