The Encounters Fellowships Program is a legacy of the 2015 exhibition Encounters: Revealing Stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Objects from the British Museum, produced by the National Museum of Australia in partnership with the British Museum.
During consultations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in preparation for the exhibition, people identified a need for remote and regional community cultural workers to:
- have greater access to national and international museum collections and the information they hold about Indigenous communities and histories
- establish networks between Indigenous communities and cultural institutions in Australia and overseas
- learn how institutions manage cultural heritage materials
- develop and strengthen skills and knowledge in museum practices through hands-on experiences.
Additionally, the National Museum of Australia recognised a need to:
- acknowledge and respect Indigenous cultural and intellectual property rights, locally and globally
- appreciate and value connections between Indigenous people and their material culture held in museum collections
- provide access to collections to facilitate knowledge transmission
- assist Australian Indigenous cultural workers to contribute to and engage with other First Nations peoples
- acknowledge that Indigenous communities’ engagement with museum collections is not only important to understanding their history, but also plays an integral role in shaping their futures
- create opportunities to access collections for both personal and professional reasons and to build on the Museum’s knowledge of the collection.
The Encounters Fellowships Program has been designed in response to these recommendations.
The Encounters Fellowships Program is a professional development opportunity for emerging and mid-career Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in the cultural, heritage or creative sectors.
Through tailored programs at the National Museum of Australia and partner institutions in Canberra, Sydney and the United Kingdom, fellows will receive mentoring, learn new skills and build networks in the cultural institutions sector. During these programs, fellows will be paid a stipend and receive an allowance for all associated travel costs. The program will support fellows to research, design and develop a project plan or business case for a project that reinvigorates culture or cultural practice.
As part of the National Museum of Australia’s Indigenous Knowledge Centre, the Encounters Fellowships Program is a cornerstone of the Museum’s Cultural Connections, an outreach initiative that enhances the capabilities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural workers.