2016 ArtsNSW History Fellowship

James Morrison’s collection of Indigenous wooden artefacts on display in the main street of Singleton, NSW in 1904 to celebrate the visit of State Governor Sir Harry Rawson (Reproduction rights Australian Museum)

The 2016 ArtsNSW History Fellowship is offered by the State Government to a historian or a practitioner working with history to undertake a self-directed program of professional development. This program of professional development is to enable the acquisition or development of skills, create new work or research, develop networks or mentorships, whether through facilitated formal or informal learning opportunities.

The Fellowship will also offer a unique opportunity to undertake a commissioned piece of research with the Australian Museum based on its significant NSW Aboriginal collection.

Applications close: Monday 19 September 2016.

Background to the Australian Museum collection

The first NSW Indigenous cultural objects in the Australian Museum’s collections were probably collected by Thomas Mitchell and presented to the newly-established museum in 1835. Focused collection of Aboriginal artefacts did not begin until the late 1870s and almost all of these early collections were destroyed in the Garden Palace fire of 1882. After the fire, collection efforts expanded and the Australian Museum now holds over 30,000 Indigenous Australian objects, including weapons, body ornaments, tools, bark paintings, toys and contemporary art and sculpture from all across Australia. The large majority of objects are from NT, WA and Queensland.

The NSW Indigenous collection comprises over 2000 objects, including weapons, raw materials and woven objects plus around 500 photographs. Highlights include:
• The Sydney Shield, c1884
• Morrison Collection from the Hunter Region, early c20th
• Miniature weapons from Peak Hill near Dubbo c1930s
• Mary Bundock Collection, Richmond River, 1895
• Thomas Dick Photograph Collection, Port Macquarie, 1910-25

The NSW collection offers a wealth of research opportunities for historians and practitioners working with history. Areas of focus might include:
• Particular collection groups or regional areas
• Single object history or interpretation
• Repatriation histories and practices
• Indigenous exhibition histories

Research outcomes

The objective of the Australian Museum commission is to expand and develop new collection knowledge to apply to collections and public outcomes. The museum will work closely with the successful candidate to develop new rich content to apply to the Museum’s exhibitions, public programs or collections.


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