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Bipotaim: stories before time

Stories from the Torres Strait and a way of life that is disappearing or has already disappeared are told in a new exhibition at the National Museum of Australia.

Bipotaim: Stories from the Torres Strait is an exhibition of photographs and objects from the National Museum's Torres Strait collection which shares stories about the lives, culture and identity of Torres Strait Islanders. The exhibition was developed by the Gab Titui Cultural Centre in the Torres Strait Islands in partnership with the National Museum of Australia.

The word Bipotaim means 'before time' in Torres Strait Creole and can be interpreted in a number of ways. For some Torres Strait Islanders it means 'olden times', to others it is the time before the 1967 referendum. The exhibition celebrates the history of Torres Strait Islanders and the importance of transferring cultural knowledge before that knowledge is lost.

"Since the Museum opened ten years ago the complex, fascinating and rich culture of the Torres Strait has been featured. Bipotaim is the latest chapter of the Museum's ongoing dialogue with the people of and cultures of this important region," said Andrew Sayers, Director of the National Museum of Australia.

Bipotaim: Stories from the Torres Strait tells the story of the pearl and trochus shell industries, the mainstay of many Torres Strait Islanders form the last 1800 to the Second World War. The work was dangerous and resulted in many fatalities. The men employed in the industry were away from their families for most of the year.

Bipotaim: Stories from the Torres Strait was developed by the Gab Titui Cultural Centre, Torres Strait and the National Museum of Australia and will be on show until September 2013. Admission is free. For more information about the exhibition visit: http://www.nma.gov.au/exhibitions/bipotaim/

For interviews and images please contact Dennis Grant on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481; Caroline Vero on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710; or media@nma.gov.au