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Tasmanians tell their story in a museum first

10 AUGUST 2006

A groundbreaking new museum book which allows Tasmanian Aborigines to tell their own stories is being launched by the National Museum of Australia in Hobart tomorrow.

Keeping Culture: Aboriginal Tasmania features contributions from nine contemporary Aboriginal writers, artists and advocates on cultural traditions including mutton-birding and fishing.

The book is the companion piece to a collection of artefacts from Tasmania, commissioned by National Museum senior curator Amanda Reynolds during many months spent working with community members.

'This book is a real first because it is about living history,' Ms Reynolds said. 'The relationship between indigenous people and museums is sometimes uneasy but Keeping Culture brings rich indigenous voices to a much broader discussion about how museums can represent a living culture in a collecting institution.'

'Keeping Culture has great value as a snapshot of indigenous life in Tasmania today, but it will be invaluable in 200 years time when people look back at a photo or an artefact and wonder about its significance. Museum collections across the world would be all the richer if we knew exactly how the original owners explained their connection to culture.'

Keeping Culture will be launched by Rodney Dillon at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery tomorrow, Friday, 11 August, as part of the Tasmanian Living Writers' Week.

The book features stories, essays, songs, poems, and art from contributors including:

  • Aboriginal leader and advocate Rodney Dillon
  • Elder and poet Phyllis Pitchford
  • Curator Tony Brown
  • Academic and visual artist Julie Gough
  • Educator and writer Greg Lehman
  • Singer and songwriter Cheryl Mundy
  • Playwright, poet and political activist Jim Everett
  • Shell necklace-maker Lola Greeno
  • Poet Karen Brown

Keeping Culture is edited by Amanda Reynolds and links to We're Here, an exhibition of contemporary Tasmanian Aboriginal works on show at the National Museum in Canberra.

For images, interviews or a review copy please contact Leanda Kitchen on
02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au