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The Encounters Fellowship Program offers up to six emerging and mid-career First Nations cultural practitioners the opportunity to gain professional development in a hands-on program at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and partner cultural institutions in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

Through a mix of immersive group sessions, workshops and individual placements, successful applicants will get to work alongside museum, gallery and other cultural sector specialists, gaining behind-the-scenes experience in areas including collections research and care, curatorial, exhibition planning, digital storytelling, educational programming and leadership skills.

Programs are tailored to each individual Fellow to support their aspirations and the cultural work they are engaged in.

Fellows are paid a stipend and receive a daily meal and incidentals allowance. The cost of all domestic and international travel and accommodation is also covered by the Program.


2019 Fellows at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

2016 Fellows viewing the Enlightenment collection, British Museum, London

2016 Fellows at the Aboriginal Memorial, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra

2016 Fellows on a conservation visit, National Museum of Australia, Canberra

2016 Fellows with staff at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford University

The Encounters Fellowships build on the experience of First Nations cultural practitioners by providing opportunities to work with cultural institutions to develop their skills, knowledge and networks within the sector.

Fellows will have access to cultural material held in a range of museums, galleries, archives and universities, and will learn about museum processes and practices through hands-on experiences with specialists from these institutions.

Fellows will also have the opportunity to contribute to important conversations – in Australia and internationally – about how cultural institutions care for First Nations collections and collaborate with the communities connected to them.

Through placements at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and partner cultural institutions in Australia and overseas, Fellows will be supported to strengthen their professional networks and leadership skills

The Encounters Fellowship Program is built around three core themes: collections, capabilities and connections.


Cultural institutions such as museums, galleries, archives and universities are the custodians of rich and diverse collections of First Nations art, artefacts and histories. Fellows will have access to a range of these significant collections during the program. Through rich engagement with partner institutions, both nationally and internationally, Fellows will gain global insights into how museums care for and manage collections, engage with source communities and respond to contemporary issues.

Cultural institutions also have much to learn from First Nations people and communities, who can bring to light new information and insights about existing collections and their future care.


Fellows will have opportunities to build skills relevant to the cultural sector. Workshops and hands-on experiences will include collection management, curatorial, research, exhibition development, audience engagement, new media technologies, digital storytelling, project design and management, public speaking and leadership skills.


The program is grounded in ‘two-way’ learning and exchange, providing opportunities for cultural sector professionals and Fellows to learn from one another. Through such engagements, both in Australia and overseas, Fellows are able to share their unique perspectives, expand their vision and build new relationships and possibly future collaborations. In addition, the program will encourage stronger connections and knowledge-sharing between Fellows – past and present – their elders and their communities.

Fellows receive the following financial benefits:

  • a stipend of $1,500 per week
  • accommodation and a daily meals allowance (for each day away from home)
  • all domestic and international travel

Fellows also receive these non-financial benefits:

  • a tailored professional development program in the cultural sector
  • development and enhancement of knowledge, skills, experience and self-confidence
  • opportunities to build a national and international professional network in the cultural sector that benefits the Fellow, their employer and their community.

Contact us

Shona Coyne
Manager, First Nations Outreach Programs

Phone +61 2 6208 5319

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