Shields in the NMA collection. Photo: Meredith Foley.
Michaela Boland, Indigenous bark shield to return home from Netherlands, The Australian, 12 June 2015
The National Museum of Australia was the first buyer at Sotheby’s London’s inaugural Aboriginal Art Auction this week, buying a 200-year-old broad shield from southeast Australia for repatriation from a Dutch collection …
The NMA bid $76,000 for the metre-tall shield, fashioned from the bark of a gum tree.
Assistant director of collections Janda Gooding said very little was known about the intricately decorated shield, which may have been used for protection, dance or both.
“This is something not currently represented in our collection … this is a chance to bring it back and work with indigenous communities and try to learn more about its history,” she said.
It is not known when the wooden piece was taken from Australia but a New York collector sold it at Sotheby’s New York in 2000, where it was bought by Dutch collector, department store heir Thomas Vroom.