These objects and stories are part of who we are ... they have a life and they have a history.
June Oscar, Bunuba elder, 2013
Encounters is a collaborative project between the National Museum of Australia, the British Museum, the Australian National University and a range of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia.
Community engagement is central to the project. In the past seven years, staff from the National Museum and the British Museum have worked with more than 25 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities around Australia.
The project will generate two exhibitions featuring highlights from the extraordinary collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects held at the British Museum.
The Encounters exhibition opens at the National Museum in Canberra in November 2015. Encounters will:
- reveal the diverse contacts that occurred between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and British explorers and settlers during the early years of European colonisation.
- highlight the complex histories of the objects that come from these encounters, and reveal their continuing significance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and other Australians today.
- be the first time much of this material will have been seen in Australia since its original collection.
- be a catalyst for acknowledging our entwined histories, and will prompt Australians to consider the continuing legacies of these encounters.
The British Museum’s exhibition Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation is the first in the United Kingdom devoted to the history and culture of Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. Drawing on objects from the British Museum’s collection, accompanied by important loans from British and Australian collections including that of the National Museum of Australia, the show presents Indigenous Australia as a living culture, with a continuous history dating back more than 60,000 years.
Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation opened at the British Museum in London on 23 April 2015. It was launched by the exhibition’s patron, HRH The Prince of Wales. Present were a delegation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, including members of the Museum’s Indigenous Reference Group (IRG). Also in attendance were Australia's High Commissioner to the UK, the Hon Alexander Downer AC, the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, and the Director of the National Museum of Australia, Dr Mat Trinca.
The following photos from the launch were taken by Benedict Johnson:
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Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum discusses the exhibitions
The Encounters exhibition is supported by the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program, an Australian Government program aiming to improve access to the national collections for all Australians.