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Behind the scenes

WARNING: Visitors should be aware that this website includes images and names of deceased people that may cause sadness or distress to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Sharing inspirational stories

The National Museum of Australia has worked with many people to create the exhibition From Little Things Big Things Grow. Join the Museum's curators and conservators at work. Meet the inspirational people who feature in the exhibition and share some of the experiences which have helped to shape the show.

Eric Bell and National Museum of Australia curator Karolina Kilian

Memories of mission life

Keeping memories of Hollywood Mission alive with Eric Bell in Yass, New South Wales

Ngunnawal elder Eric Bell shares his recollections of growing up on an Aboriginal mission. Eric met National Museum curator Karolina Kilian at the former mission site and donated a sheet of corrugated, or ripple, iron to the National Museum, to help tell his story.

Read more about Eric Bell and mission life

Suzanne Gibson interviewing Michael Williams

Talking discrimination

Recording real life stories for a museum exhibition

The exhibition includes film displays where Indigenous Australians share their experiences of discrimination. Learn about the complexities encountered during the research and production of this project. Read Indigenous woman Dr Linda Payi Ford's reflections on sharing her story with the Museum.

Learn more about recording life stories

Mary Terszak holding her Certificate of Exemption

Programmed to be White

Mary Terszak's story of surviving assimilation

The National Museum's search for a rare object led curators to Mary Terszak, a Nyoongah woman, who shares her Certificate of Exemption in the exhibition and recounts her incredible life after being forcibly removed from her family.

More on Mary Terszak's story

Back: Bob Lehane. Front, left to right: Troy Pickwick, Martin Ballanggarry, Kipley Nink and Lisa Milner

Seats of segregation

Uncovering the history of Bowraville's Raymond-Theatre seats

Museum staff travelled to Bowraville to meet Martin Ballangarry, a Gumbayngirr elder and one of many Indigenous Australians who used to frequent the local segregated movie theatre.

Read more about the Bowraville visit

Two rows of theatre seating. Three reddish-coloured upholstered seats appear at the rear. Three conjoined wooden seats are in the front.

New life for old seats

Museum conservators restore the Bowraville theatre seats

Conservators brought new life to some long-forgotten seats from Bowraville's Ray-Mond Theatre. The seats were stored under the theatre for 40 years before being prepared for display in the exhibition. Here, conservators share details of the process through notes, photographs and interviews.

More on the theatre seat conservation

National Museum Director Craddock Morton with hip-hop artist Brothablack

Exhibition opening

Celebrating the official opening of the exhibition

From Little Things Big Things Grow: Fighting for Indigenous Rights 1920-1970 was officially opened by Rachel Perkins, leading Indigenous filmmaker and daughter of activitist Charles Perkins, on 9 September 2009. The event began with a Welcome to Country by Ngambri Indigenous elder Matilda House, followed by John Maynard, grandson of activist Fred Maynard and Director of Wollotuka Institute at University of Newcastle.

Brothablack, a pioneer of Australian Indigenous hip-hop, wrapped up proceedings with a performance that energized the exhibition space and brought Indigenous protest to life.

View launch photos on Facebook

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