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First Australians

WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

First Australians: Gallery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Now showing in Canberra. Free.

First Australians is the largest gallery at the National Museum. Special areas in the gallery offer different stories and experiences.

We are refreshing the entry to our First Australians gallery. Access is via the Garden of Australian Dreams until December 2016. Follow the temporary detour signs or ask one of our hosts for help.

  • Stories in the upper level gallery highlight the local and regional diversity of Aboriginal communities and enduring attachments to Country.
  • Stories in the lower gallery emphasise the effects of colonisation on Aboriginal and Torres Strait communities since the British arrived in 1788. These include first contact experiences, responses to colonisation, forced removal of children and their institutionalisation in missions and homes, and the fight for civil and land rights.
  • The Focus Gallery features Indigenous-themed exhibitions for up to 12 months.

Where stories come alive

Many of the stories in the First Australians gallery are told from the point of view of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

They take the visitor on a journey and speak of diversity and connection, antiquity and continuity of identity, and the central nature of spirituality in Australian Indigenous people's lives.

The stories in the gallery were developed through extensive community consultation, including with the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, custodians of the Canberra region.

Torres Strait Islander gallery

The Torres Strait Island gallery, Lag Meta Aus: Home in the Torres Strait, reveals the history and vitality of Australia's most northerly region.

This free exhibition features artworks, objects and stories that reflect the Strait's history and culture, from the mythological past to the present.

Open Collections

Open Collections is a massed display of more than 2000 objects in a storage-like environment. It gives an insight into the richness and diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander material culture across Australia.

Open Collections is open for 15 minutes each hour to give a glimpse of artefacts rarely seen by the public. The space is also used to give members of Indigenous communities private access to their objects.