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Date(s) - 04/07/2018
6:00 pm - 10:00 pm

The University Club of Western Australia

‘To Imagine an Australian Museum’

Berndt Research Foundation Biennial Lecture – Prof John Carty

Presented by The Berndt Research Foundation in partnership with the Berndt Museum of Anthropology

The Professor Ronald M and Dr Catherine H Berndt Research Foundation and Berndt Museum, invite you to the 2018 Ronald M and Catherine H Berndt Biennial Lecture with Guest Speaker Professor John Carty.

The address will be followed by a reception at the University Club, Hosted by the Berndt Research Foundation Members.

‘To Imagine an Australian Museum’

Museums are our memory banks. They tell us where we have come from. They also allow us to imagine where we are heading. Which is why it should trouble us that there has never been a truly Australian museum. Each of our state and federal museums has been built on Aboriginal collections, and each has been built on distinctly Western or European concepts, values, categories and practices. Some of these are unavoidable, but are they all? Are we too far down the path to restump the foundations of our institutions and the narratives they perpetuate in public life?

The South Australian Museum holds one of the most important collections of Aboriginal material culture in the world. It is therefore, given the story it can tell about ancient and enduring cultures, one of the most important collections of human heritage on our planet. What we do with such collections, and what we don’t, defines us. This is the great challenge of contemporary custodianship. These collections are calling us out.

In this lecture I examine the South Australian Museum’s response to this challenge. Over the past two years our Museum has undertaken a comprehensive rethink of our policies and practices and the politics of both. We are also transforming the way we work with Aboriginal communities and custodians. This is not simply a question of how collections are displayed or exhibitions are developed. We are rethinking the terms of our custodianship, and the kind of truly Australian Museum that could evolve around those new foundations.

About Professor John Carty

John Carty is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Adelaide, the Head of Humanities at the South Australian Museum, and is on the Australian National Commission for UNESCO. He is the author and editor of numerous books including Ngaanyatjarra: Art of the Lands (2012, UWAP), Ngurra Kuju Walyja: the Canning Stock Route Project (2011, Palgrave Macmillan) and Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route (2010, National Museum of Australia), amongst others. John has been integrally involved in many projects including the Canning Stock Route project (as anthropologist and curator) and the CSIRO’s Desert Lake project, and is currently involved in an ARC funded project called Aboriginal Art History: new approaches to Western Desert Art, which involves working in collaboration with Aboriginal artists to document their understandings of recent developments in Aboriginal art.

Register here: https://www.culturalprecinct.uwa.edu.au/venues/galleries-and-museums/berndt-museum/special-event 

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