Thursday, 1 October 2015

Visit to the Indigenous Australia exhibition at the British Museum

I always find exploring other museum collections and meeting colleagues working in other institutions a rewarding experience. Julia and I, both from the Collections Department at the Pitt Rivers, recently visited the British Museum to see the temporary exhibition Indigenous Australia enduring civilisationThe Museum Ethnographers Group (MEG) had organised a special tour of the exhibition, which included a talk by the Curator Gaye Sculthorpe.

MEG trip to the exhibition
We met up with the rest of the group from MEG, then Gaye gave an informative and interesting introductory talk before we looked at the exhibition. The British Museum collection was very impressive - including the work of contemporary Australian Indigenous artists, as well as older objects.

The Pitt Rivers Museum, along with other institutions,  had loaned some objects for the exhibition - which had plenty of visitors - so it was good to know people had this opportunity to see them on display.

A relaxing chat after the exhibition tour
with Curator Gaye Sculthorpe

After a good look around we then met up again with Gaye, who had kindly set aside time to have an informal chat with us all after we'd looked around.

Unfortunately the exhibition closed on 2 August. However, if you are interested, you can still get a copy of the publication Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation, which was researched and written in conjunction with the exhibition. If you are in Australia, you will be pleased to hear part of the collection is travelling there for a temporary exhibition. Plus Gaye intends to continue to to bring attention to the importance of the British Museum's Australian collections, which will involve working directly with Indigenous Australians.
PRM 1982.12.1 © Pitt Rivers Museum

The Pitt Rivers Museum lent three objects to the British Museum for the exhibition. A wooden club from New South Wales; a  bark painting from Arnhem Land (right); and a carrying vessel from the Kimberleys (below). This type of vessel is sometimes called a coolamon and can be used for all sorts of things, including carrying a baby. The painting is the work of artist Billinyara Nabegeyo and is of the Rainbow Snake, which is very significant within Australian Indigenous culture.

On behalf of Julia and I, I'd like to say thank you to Gaye and MEG for this opportunity for such an insightful and enjoyable day.

Zena McGreevy
Senior Assistant Curator

PRM 1896.50.4 © Pitt Rivers Museum

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