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26 February 2015

Collaboration brings rare Indigenous objects to Australia

A landmark partnership between the National Museum of Australia and the British Museum will see rare objects, including a shield from the earliest encounter between Indigenous Australians and Lieutenant James Cook, brought to Australia for the first time since they were collected.

In a collaboration that will see three major exhibitions from the British Museum's extensive collection come to Canberra over the next few years, the National Museum today announced the first in the series with the launch of Encounters.

Encounters will feature 151 Indigenous objects from the British Museum, most of which have not been seen in Australia since they were first acquired in contacts between early settlers and first Australians, across all states and territories.

Encounters will open in Canberra in November 2015 and will be followed in 2016 by the British Museum's acclaimed A History of the World in 100 Objects exhibition, which takes visitors on a journey along a timeline of human history and object creation. A third British Museum exhibition will come to Canberra in 2018.

Minister for the Arts, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, applauded the significant partnership between the two national museums.

'This international partnership will give Australians the remarkable opportunity to view objects from the world’s oldest national public museum. It will also encourage cultural exchange and provide a platform to showcase our rich Australian heritage to audiences overseas,' Senator Brandis said.

National Museum director, Mathew Trinca, welcomed the collaboration: 'This first-ever collaboration with the British Museum will bring three major exhibitions to Australian audiences, starting with Encounters, which will encourage Australians to consider their history,' said Dr Trinca.

National Museum Indigenous Advisory Committee, chair Peter Yu, said: 'Addressing these sometimes confronting issues and exploring the complex history of early encounters between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians is a crucial component of reconciliation.'

The iconic Yumari canvas by internationally renowned Papunya artist Uta Uta Tjangala is one of the National Museum objects being sent to London to be part of the British Museum's sister BP exhibition Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation, which opens in April 2015.

For more information please contact Tracy Sutherland, (02) 6208 5338 / 0438 620 710 or

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