Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

AM’s Repatriation Policy

Pukumani Poles from the Tiwi Islands at the Australian Museum. Photo: Meredith Foley.

Alice Gage, Amplify: Episode 15, Phil Gordon, Australian Museum Blog, 20 July 2016

Australian Museum CEO and Executive Director Kim McKay in conversation with the AM’s Aboriginal Heritage Project Officer.

Phil coordinates the AM’s Repatriation policy to support return of Indigenous remains held in museum collections around the world.

“We have been, for over 30-odd years, trying to return objects to community. And it can be a very difficult and complex process. But we are fortunately going to be, in conjunction with the Strehlow Centre, looking at some material from Central Australia and getting traditional owners in here (to the AM) again over the next 12 months to hopefully speed up some returns of objects back into the Central Australian region.”

“The collection covers a lot of areas,” says Phil.

“In the ethnographic collection – material collected after contact with Europeans – there are about 20,000 objects, most from the northern parts of Australia. Then there is the archaeological collection, which is well over 1 million objects and that is basically New South Wales.

“Then we have the special collections. Our sacred and secret collections which deal with usually mens ceremonial material. Our ancestral remains collections and our carved tree collections which are all very sensitive in very different ways.”

Listen to the podcast here.

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