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First Australians: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

The First Australians gallery represents the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia, as required by Section 5 of the Museum Act, and incorporates historical collections and exhibitions.

To improve audience understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures, the gallery presents stories, objects and images that explore the culture and experiences of Australia’s first peoples from time immemorial, through colonisation to contemporary Australian life.

Work this year has concentrated on changeovers to keep exhibitions refreshed for a further display period.

Old New Land: Australia’s People and Environment

Old New Land presents an environmental history of Australia. It examines the history of Australian attitudes to the environment, looking at the relationship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to the land and the adaptation of settlers from Britain and Europe to the continent’s diverse environments. The gallery also explores the personal and emotional attachments of people to the great range of Australian landscapes and places.

Eternity: Stories from the Emotional Heart of Australia

Eternity examines the lives of 50 Australians, famous and not famous, living and dead. The gallery uses these life stories to highlight larger moments, movements, events and themes in Australian history. The gallery’s display is based on emotions, such as joy, hope, passion and fear, and experiences, such as loneliness, mystery, thrill, devotion, separation and chance. This year an exhibit was installed exploring the story of Ted Pritchard’s passion for steam power.

Journeys: Australia’s Connections with the World

The Journeys gallery explores the passages of people to, from and across Australia. It traces the ways in which migrants and travellers have made homes in Australia and overseas, and have built and maintained connections between here and abroad.

The three new exhibits that were installed this year explore the stories of Norm Wilson, a patrol officer in Papua New Guinea; the dancer Madame Gertrud Bodenwieser; and Australian tennis champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley.

Landmarks: People and Places across Australia

The Landmarks gallery explores a broad history of Australia through stories of places and their peoples. The gallery considers 10 themes in Australian life, exploring how each has unfolded in particular places across the country. It looks at how people have engaged with landscapes, flora, fauna and technologies to develop distinctive Australian communities. The Landmarks gallery offers an imaginative tour of the country — the opportunity to ‘visit’ different places and to ask how, together, they create a history of Australia.

In 2014–15, a number of significant new items were added to displays. These include a wooden desk designed by Marion Mahony and Walter Burley Griffin; a taxidermied Forester kangaroo specimen; a sculpture by artist Adam Hill about the history of Bennelong Point, Sydney; and a collection of items related to the colonial history of Adelaide, including the arrest warrant issued for Edward Gibbon Wakefield and an Adelaide Pound coin.

Gallery objects de-installed and installed

Gallery Objects de-installedObjects installed
First Australians 21 25
Old New Land 11 9
Eternity 7 8
Landmarks 74 33
Journeys 101 29
Total 214 104
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