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27 April 2006

The role of Captain James Cook in the nation's historical imagination and the history of an Aboriginal breastplate will be examined by the National Museum of Australia's two inaugural research fellows.

The annual fellowships, awarded to established scholars with a record of achievement in the Museum's fields of interest, have been awarded to Julian Holland, an honorary associate of the University of Sydney, and Maria Nugent, a postdoctoral student at Monash University in Melbourne.

The National Museum's director of research and development, Mike Smith, said the fellowships demonstrated the Museum's commitment to research and scholarship.

'The National Museum recently marked 25 years of collecting and as the National Historical Collection grows, so does our desire to delve further into the history of this collection, to create a greater understanding of Australia's past,' Dr Smith said.

Dr Nugent, who wrote the award-winning Botany Bay: Where Histories Meet, will explore Captain Cook's role in the popular imagination from 1770 to the present. She will take up residency in Canberra this July and her fellowship coincides with an exhibition on Cook's Pacific encounters, being hosted exclusively in Australia by the National Museum.

Dr Nugent will explore the ways in which generations of Australians have engaged with Cook as an important historical, cultural and symbolic figure.

Mr Holland, who has expertise in scientific instruments of the colonial period, started his 13 week fellowship in Canberra yesterday. He will complete two research papers - one on the life and work of instrument-maker Angelo Tornaghi, whose 'improved circumferentor' was possibly the first scientific instrument to be patented in Australia.

Mr Holland will also research the breastplate given to Aboriginal guide Jackey Jackey, who helped surveyor Edmund Kennedy on his fatal 1848 expedition. Mr Holland will draw on the National Museum's extensive collection of breastplates, while researching Jackey Jackey's silver plate, which is held at the Mitchell Library, Sydney.

The National Museum fellowships cover travel, accommodation and other expenses. Mr Holland is in residency for 13 weeks while Dr Nugent's residency spans five months. Both will complete research papers and participate in programs with Museum staff and the public while in Canberra. Applications for the 2007 fellowships will open on 16 September, with a closing date of 16 October.

For interviews, images or more information please contact Leanda Kitchen on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or Ellen Peterson on 02 6208 5351,
0409 916 481 or

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