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Encounters project

Encounters project

These objects and stories are part of who we are ... they have a life and they have a history.
June Oscar, Bunuba elder, 2013

June Oscar
Interviewing Bunuba elder June Oscar, Broome, Western Australia, May 2013. Photo: Michael Pickering.


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.

Canberra exhibition

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.

London exhibition

Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation opens at the British Museum in London on 23 April 2015.

It will be the first exhibition in the United Kingdom devoted to the history and culture of Indigenous Australians – both Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. Drawing on objects from the British Museum’s collection, accompanied by important loans from British and Australian collections, the show will present Indigenous Australia as a living culture, with a continuous history dating back more than 60,000 years.

More about the Indigenous Australia exhibition on the British Museum website

Neil MacGregor, Director, British Museum

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.

Australian Government National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program