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Curator & Section Head, Oceania, The British Museum

Dr Gaye Sculthorpe is an experienced museum curator with a long-standing involvement in Indigenous issues.

From 2000 until early 2013, she was a Member of the National Native Title Tribunal, mediating native title applications and facilitating Indigenous land use agreements throughout Australia.

At Museums Victoria, as head of the Department of Indigenous Cultures, Gaye played a critical role in the development of Bunjilaka, the Aboriginal Centre that opened at Melbourne Museum in 2000.

After completing her Bachelor degree in Anthropology and History at ANU, she obtained a Diploma in Museum Studies and later, a PhD in Aboriginal Studies at La Trobe University.

Her long-standing interest in Tasmanian Aboriginal history stems from her own deep roots in that part of the world. She has researched the oral history of her well-known ancestor, Fanny Cochrane Smith (1834-1905), and is currently researching the life of Fanny's mother, Tanganutara (c.1806-1858).

One example of Gaye's leadership was her work on the British Museum's 2015 exhibition Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation, the biggest and most significant exhibition of its kind to be held outside Australia.

As the museum's Head of Oceania, she curated the exhibition which originated from work done as part of a research project funded by the Australian Research Council and undertaken by staff from ANU, the National Museum of Australia and the British Museum, in close consultation with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

Her aim with the exhibition was to educate British and international visitors about the complexity and diversity of Indigenous Australian culture, while not shying away from the country's problematic past.

While she has highly developed skills managing major projects and people in cross-cultural settings, her passion is researching museum objects and working with Indigenous communities to bring these historic collections alive.


  • –present
    Curator & Section Head, Oceania, The British Museum


  • 1997 
    La Trobe University, PhD