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2 November 2023

National Museum of Australia program offers a life-changing experience

Applications have opened for the third international Encounters Fellowship Program offered by the National Museum of Australia in Canberra with six First Nations cultural workers to be selected for an intensive professional development journey.

Following the success of the 2016 and 2019 programs aimed at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people working in the cultural, creative and heritage sectors, the 2024 program will again offer placements with the National Museum and with partner cultural institutions in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom.

The Encounters Fellowship Program is tailored to each individual with 12 weeks paid stipend across a six-month period in 2024. Successful applicants will work alongside museum, gallery and cultural sector specialists, gaining behind-the-scenes experience in areas including collections research and preservation, exhibition planning, digital storytelling, educational programming, Indigenous design thinking, and project management.

In 2016 and 2019 six cultural workers gained behind-the-scenes experience accessing cultural heritage materials held in numerous cultural organisations in Canberra and the United Kingdom. Fellows learnt diverse processes and practices in curatorial and exhibition development, conservation and preservation, education and digital media programs, and arts studio practice. In addition to a residency at the National Museum, fellows embarked on workshops and undertook placements at the British Museum, Horniman Museum and Gardens, Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford University and the Prince’s Foundation – School of Traditional Arts.

Encounters Fellowships manager Shona Coyne, said, ‘The program is a bridge between Indigenous Australian cultural workers and leading Australian and international cultural institutions and staff, enabling a truly local to global exchange.

‘The program’s in-depth and hands-on engagement is both professionally and personally transformative, equipping fellows with new knowledge, networks and skills which they can apply in their own community organisation or enterprise,’ Ms Coyne said.

National Museum director, Dr Mathew Trinca, said, ‘We are thrilled to support the next generation of Indigenous cultural, creative and heritage workers and to give them such an extraordinary international experience.

‘Previous fellows have gone on to achieve remarkable success in a range of cultural fields, having gained skills, knowledge and experience during the fellowship program,’ Dr Trinca said.

The National Museum developed the Encounters Fellowship Program following recommendations from the extensive community consultation conducted for the 2015–2016 Encounters exhibition of Australian Indigenous artefacts from the British Museum.

Applicants must have prior and/or current experience in cultural work or demonstrate involvement in their community’s cultural heritage.

Participants will receive a generous stipend and all accommodation and travel costs will be covered.

Interested applicants can find information on the Museum’s website or email:

For more information phone Shona Coyne, Manager, First Nations Outreach Programs on +61 2 6208 5319 (Monday, Tuesday and Thursday).

Applications close Friday 15 December 2023.

Media contact: Diana Streak, (02) 6208 5091 | 0409 888 976 or

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