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About the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art Collection

Namarrgon (The Lightning Lady)The artworks and objects in this collection belong to a unique body of works that was started in 1967 by the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. For almost 40 years, the council, and the agencies that supported and replaced it, including the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (1973-89), the Aboriginal Development Commission (1980-89) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) (1989-2005), added to the collection. Regional offices developed significant collections of local artists, and the resulting diversity is one of the greatest strengths of the combined collection.

In April 2005 the Australian Government dissolved ATSIC. Soon afterwards, couriers collected all artworks and significant objects from the commission's offices across Australia. About 2000 pieces were brought into storage. In 2007 the government transferred this collection to the National Museum of Australia, naming it the 'Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art collection'.


Wooden painted coolamon

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Woven basket with brown bands

Many of these artworks and objects came to the Museum with very little information about them. If you know something about a work - the date it was made, the name of its maker, or a relevant story, please tell us.


Part of the 'Off the Walls' exhibition at the National Museum of Australia.