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National Museum of Australia

Collection Explorer



  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art (ATSIAA) collection(2104)

    Flags Act 1953 - Proclamation
    Dance hat with string and emu feathers at the top
    Bark painting titled 'Mortuary Ceremony'.
    Mountain Devil Dreaming

    The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art collection comprises 2050 artworks and other objects. The artworks - which numerically dominate the collection - were produced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Australia. The accumulation of these artworks into a single collection has resulted from the choices and selections made during a 38 year period by a variety of staff working for the Council for Aboriginal Affairs (CAA), the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA), the Aboriginal Development Commission (ADC) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) at the national, regional and local levels.

    The collection spans the years following the 1967 referendum, when dramatic changes in the governance of Aboriginal people took place, up to 2005 when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission was dissolved. It provides a snapshot of the diversity and changes in Indigenous art and its representation which occurred during the period of its formation. The small number of 'non-art' objects in the collection is also significant in providing insights into the working of the various Commonwealth bodies involved in Indigenous affairs. As well as the significance of many of the individual pieces, the collection is also significant as a whole, as a complex artefact stemming from Australia's history of governance of Australian Indigenous peoples.

  • Mary Nicholson collection no. 2(19)

    Vice-Regal Bicky
    Extract of Stone
    Murphy's Law
  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7553)

    Photographic postcard of Jack Moriarty of the Fitzroy VFL football club
    In the Botanic Gardens, Adelaide
    Postcard featuring a coloured print of the Australian flag, with an inset photograph of three horseman
    Junction Street, Nowra, NSW
  • Campfire Group All Stock Must Go collection(2)

    A colour concept photograph of the installation artwork
    Concept photograph of nine members of the Campfire Group of artists seated around the oval boardroom table of the Queensland Art Gallery

    The installation work All Stock Must Go is an assemblage of body parts from an old Dodge truck painted with significant Aboriginal designs. It comprises a truck cab, a bonnet, a fuel tank, tray back, side mirror, 4 wooden human figure cut outs, 2 contextual photographs, decorated goggles, a CD and Video documentaries and lid support for the monitor. This work was created in 1996 in Brisbane by the Campfire Group (primarily a collective of urban Indigenous artists) for inclusion in the 1996 Asia-Pacific Triennial held in Brisbane.

    This installation is a symbolic visual statement by a collective of Indigenous people about urban culture and related socio-political issues. The use of the truck references the history of the removal of Aboriginal people from ancestral lands to depots of assimilation such as missions. Parallels are drawn with the use of cattle trucks for the herding of cattle. The title is a play on words which simultaneously refers to the commodification of culture at sale prices - thus "all stock must go" - and the further devaluation of urban and tribal artefacts by selling art from 'the back of a truck', both of which highlight the use of Indigenous designs through the tourist trade. Issues of cultural loss, self determination and cultural reclamation were addressed in various ways including the re-purposing of the truck which led to it being dismantled. Truck parts were re-possessed or re-appropriated through the application of traditional markings.

  • American-Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land (AASEAL) collection(218)

    Weapon - Spear
    The Barramundi
    The Scorpion (constellation), Yirrkala, 1948
    Unidentified. Depicts large rectangle with crosshatched bands forming four panels
  • Andrew Reeves collection no. 5(24)

    Award of Merit certificate issued by the Amalgamated Engineering Union
    Amalgamated Society of Engineers
    Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners
    Melbourne Wharf Labourers' Union Certificate of Recognition

    The Andrew Reeves collection consists of twenty-three trade union certificates used in Australia from 1860-1970. They are generally in good condition considering their age, use and material (paper based). They cover a range of Australian worker's unions, including a number which either were amalgamated into larger unions or ceased to exist.

    The period between the 1850s and the 1970s spans a key time in the development, working condition gains and various ebbs and flow of Australian trade unions. Certificates in this collection document achievements including the eight hour work day but also allow reflection on the dwindling support for unions during the 20th century. In addition, as the designs of Australian certificates follow the centuries old British tradition of union emblems they provide examples of links between worker's organisations in Australia and England.

  • Rae Page collection(18)

    A canvas water bag with string handles.


    Food storage container

    Snakebite kit
  • Daisy Bates and Herbert Browne collection(12)

    Symmetrical brown boomerang
    Boomerang with red pigment
    Boomerang with red and white pigment
    Symmetrical brown boomerang

    The Daisy Bates - Herbert Browne collection consists of twelve Indigenous objects which belonged to Herbert Browne. Browne acquired a collection of objects from Daisy Bates while she was living at Ooldea in the 1920s and 1930s. The collection is comprised of eight boomerangs, two spearthrowers, a shield with a painted and incised design and an adze with a stone flake mounted in resin. Four of the boomerangs are small and light, typical of so-called 'returning' boomerangs, the other four are larger and heavier, typical of the hunting and fighting boomerangs of inland regions. One of the spearthrowers is plain, the other incised and has pigment staining consistent with use as a palette.

    Daisy Bates and her relationship with Aboriginal people in Western Australia and at Ooldea are an important part of Australia's history of settler-Indigenous relations during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These objects are significant for their link to the story of Bates and her sojourn in Ooldea. Their links to Herbert Browne also make them significant for understanding the history of the theatre in Australia during the early twentieth century, and the way in which theatre moved around the country. These objects are also significant for demonstrating the economics of material culture and artefact manufacture at Ooldea and the early development of Aboriginal arts and tourism industries in Australia.