by Jakelin Troy, 2009
This book aims to bring Aboriginal gorgets to wider public attention and to demonstrate their value as historical documents.
Many gorgets languish unknown in private collections and the information they carry is hidden from Aboriginal people who might have a connection with the person named.
Public collections of the gorgets are often equally as hidden because they are not displayed, but kept locked in the vaults of institutions such as museums and art galleries.
An even more immediate problem is that gorgets now fetch large prices from investors and collectors of Australiana. It is possible that these important links with Aboriginal history are at best being kept in private collections in Australia and the very worst leaving the country for overseas collections. Aboriginal communities, such as the Wiradjuri people of Cowra, are seeking to regain the gorgets and to retain them within their community collections so that they can continue to have public significance and proclaim the existence of Aboriginal leaders and heroes.
The following is a list of known cultural institutions in Australia containing other collections of breastplates:
- Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra
- Australian Museum, Sydney
- Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne
- National Library of Australia, Canberra
- Powerhouse Museum, Sydney
- Queensland Museum, South Bank, Brisbane
- South Australian Museum, Adelaide
- State Library of New South Wales, Sydney
The research undertaken for this work was by no means exhaustive and there are many more sources, both private and public, which could profitably be investigated. Research in regional art galleries, libraries and historical societies would certainly reward interested people with more information about gorgets and the people to whom they were presented. The bibliography should give anyone interested in pursuing the subject further an idea of the kinds of literary resources available.
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