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SEMINAR | Exhibiting difficult histories: Indigenous Australia at the British Museum 2015



Start Date

4 Dec 2015 5:30 pm

End Date

4 Dec 2015 6:30 pm


Harvard Lecture Theatre 1, Centenary Building, Sandy Bay campus

RSVP / Contact by Tuesday 1 December

Institute for the Study of Social Change logo

presented by

Dr Gaye Sculthorpe, British Museum

Chair: Associate Professor Penny Edmonds, School of Humanities, University of Tasmania

The BP exhibition 'Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation' mounted at the British Museum from 23 April to 2 August 2015 resulted in much commentary. Some reviewers gave it five stars and called it a 'radical provocative encounter'. Another described it as 'an all-too-familiar account of dispossession, malfeasance and massacres by the British'. The exhibition dealt directly with topics such as colonialism, frontier violence, and repatriation of museum objects and it included significant cultural material from all states of Australia, ranging in date from 1770 until 2015. The exhibition was highly regarded by museum visitors in London and within the British Museum. This lecture will present some of the challenges in presenting these histories, the engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities in the exhibition-making process, and the reception of the exhibition in the U.K. and Australia.

Gaye Sculthorpe is Curator, and Head, Oceania at the British Museum. She took up the position in 2013 after working in Australia as a member of the National Native Title Tribunal and prior to that as Head of the Indigenous Cultures Department at Museum Victoria, Melbourne. Born in Hobart, Gaye studied history and anthropology at ANU and has a PhD from La Trobe University. She is a descendant of Tanganutara and Fanny Cochrane Smith.

Event details
When | Friday 4 December 2015, 5.30pm to 6.30pm (refreshments to follow) 
Where | Harvard Lecture Theatre 1, Centenary Building, Sandy Bay Campus

RSVP | by Tuesday 1 December

Seven Sisters painting

*Kungkarangkalpa (Seven Sisters) 2014. Painted by Tjaruwu Woods, Yarangka Thomas, Estelle Hogan, Ngalpingka Simms and Myrtle Pennington. Copyright: the artists courtesy of Spinifiex Arts Project. Donated by BP. Photo: The Trustees of the British Museum.


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