This wooden dish from Broome, pre-1892, was made by Yawuru people, collected by police and later presented by the Commissioner of Police, Colonel Phillips, to the WA Museum.
Courtesy of the WA museum
A spear-thrower, a shell, a bowl, a vase, a bucket. Five very different items tell us much about the history of collecting, the role of Indigenous experts and the shadow of colonial violence.
Understanding the different types of visitors and how they navigate museums can help these institutions reopen safely.
One of Britain’s great cultural institutions: the British Museum in London.
Claudio Divizia via Shutterstock
The government must respect the arm’s-length principle which ensures institutions like the British Museum are independent from government control.
A mummy of the Ancient Egyptian Priestess “Tamut” (900 BC) on display at British Museum in London, in 2014.
The power to select, name and decide the meaning of these items makes Europeans the authors of African history.
The indigenous Rapa Nui say the statue is one of their most spiritually important.
One of the plundered Benin plaques, at the British Museum.
Colonial powers plundered the heritage of countries all over the world – restitution is long overdue.
What’s needed is a comprehensive international strategy to combat the illicit trade in antiquities.
Ethiopian books and other materials, such as this ancient Bible, are in great demand.
For Ethiopia, there is no connection between the Maqdala war in 1868 and the stolen treasures at Maqdala
An ivory ban in the US had a series of unintended consequences.
Aboriginal elder Major Sumner sits outside Liverpool’s World Museum with a box containing the skull of an Australian indigenous person, taken from Australia between 1902 and 1904.
The question of repatriating objects is clearly more complex than returning human remains. It needs more debate, and more creative interventions to move beyond the current impasse.
Detail of Mungurrawuy Yunipingu (Gumatj), Macassan Prau 1946.
Berndt Collection, Berndt Museum, The University of Western Australia
For centuries, fishing fleets from Sulawesi regularly visited Australia in search of trepang. Their visits were recorded orally and have been depicted in detailed artworks.
Shell Necklace, Displayed at the Great Exhibition, London, 1851. Maireener shell and fibre. Oyster Cove, Tasmania, before 1851
© The Trustees of the British Museum.
It hovers uneasily between being a fine-art exhibition showing the diversity and sheer visual and sociocultural potency of contemporary Australian visual art practice, and an older-style ethnographic survey.