The University of Melbourne’s art and cultural collections includes significant Indigenous Australian materials of art and culture. More than 90+ communities of origin are thought to be represented. This unique cultural richness continues to be valued by communities of origin who play a vital role in keeping these collections fresh. It is also highlighted in the Cultural Commons Strategy and the Murmuk Djerring Indigenous Strategy 2023-2027.
- We house collections as if they have feelings.
- We consider relationships across the collections as if they are on Country.
- We ensure that boundaries are fluid and shift and move according to needs. This is not state and territory boundaries but the cultural boundaries that should be considered.
- We recognise that culture is also fluid and shifts. Not everything is lost and nor is it stolen.
- We acknowledge that sometimes Aboriginal people gave to collections with agency.
- We are guided by kinships knowledge across moiety and both from the holder and the performer.
- We facilitate access with respect and confidence, because we have done the work to ensure connection, identification and ongoing refreshment continues.
These collections were established from as early as the 1920s and the value of the items is both in the historical and contemporary context in which they connect people back to cultural practices that are generational in time. As an educational institution, these collections offer an opportunity to rematriate and conserve Indigenous knowledges. To strengthen and teach from the local to campus in new ways.
The University is currently digitising all of its collections, including the Indigenous Collections. This program will ensure high-quality images, of appropriate collection items, allowing for interactive experiences that will bring the collections to new, remote and global audiences.