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TMAG opens Unshackled based on ARC collab

Unshackled: The True Convict Story, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, March 2024

Unshackled tells a new story of convict Australia drawn from recent discoveries within the UNESCO listed convict records. It highlights the shared but different experiences of the dispossessed poor, the political radicals and First Nations resistors across Australia who were forced into the convict system. Convict transportation was one of the world’s largest forced migrations of unfree workers and this exhibition debunks the commonly held misconception of convicts as passive, traumatised victims. From the uprisings at Castle Hill, Norfolk Island and Bathurst to the strikes and rebellions on road gangs and in the female factories to the thousands who absconded from custody, convicts railed against their colonial masters at every turn both individually and collectively. These protests profoundly influenced the creation of Australia’s democratic institutions, the early emergence of a union movement and an egalitarian national identity.

Unshackled melds traditional museum presentation and rare objects with engaging digital storytelling that is surprising, immersive and moving. Unshackled brings to life the stories and characters with interactive screen-based media, large screen data-visualisation, original music and soundscapes and augmented reality that lead the visitor through the exhibition themes: repression, exploitation, rebellion and redemption.

The Unshackled exhibition is based on Conviction Politics – a major Australian Research Council project lead by Monash University and Roar Film. Conviction Politics is a four-year collaboration involving highly regarded academics, historians, authors, social demographers, visual artists, filmmakers, animators, creative technologists, musicians, poets, songwriters and museum specialists in an array of different combinations. Conviction Politics brings together ten Australian and international universities and numerous cultural institutions, private organisations and individuals. The exhibition has been financially supported by The Mineworkers Trust and Maurice Blackburn Lawyers with foundational investment from the NSW Teachers Federation, Trade Union Education Foundation of the ACTU, Libraries Tasmania and Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and significant in-kind support from Roar Film, Monash University and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

Click here for further background on the project.

The Unshackled Education Resource is now available.


See also: Unshackled: The True Convict Story