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Public collections

This lists the most important collections of international museums and institutions that have Australian Indigenous artworks in their permanent collection. Accessible to the general public.

 

Australia

 

Australian National Maritime Museum – Eora First People permanent exhibition

Sydney (NSW), Australia

This exhibition takes the visitor on a journey from Tasmania to Far North Queensland and the Torres Strait, exploring this deep connection through art and adornments. Eora means ‘first people’ in the language of the Darug, traditional owners of the land the museum now stands on. The exhibition includes bark paitings, poles, coffins, sculptures and shell works.

 

Berndt Museum of Anthropology of the University of Western Australia

Perth (WA), Australia

The Berndt Museum of Anthropology holds an extensive collection of Indigenous art and artefacts. Its permanent collections (the Arnhem Land collections, the Kimberley collections, the South-West collections, the Western Desert collections) represent alltogether around 4800 artefacts of very various media – from ceremonial and weapons to acrylic paintings and bark drawings – coming from these regions.


Buku Larrnggay Mulka Museum

Yirrkala (NT), Australia

The space incorporates a theatre, media lab, project office, and museum. Using the latest gear community members access traditional music, local video, the internet, family photos, digital cultural assets and production tools. The space is a focal point for both young and old to come together and celebrate Yolngu culture.

Flinders University Art Museum

Adelaide (SA), Australia

Flinders University Art Museum is a cultural facility maintained by the university. It contains a permanent collection of 2500 works of Australian Indigenous art drawn from throughout Australia, particularly the central desert. Highlights include watercolours from Hermannsburg, featuring work by Albert Namatjira and works from Utopia, including paintings by Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

 

Ian Potter Museum of Art of the University of Melbourne

 Melbourne (VIC), Australia

The Ian Potter Museum of Art is the University of Melbourne’s visual arts museum.  The collection comprises mostly of Australian art, including the Leonhard Adam Collection which contains Indigenous artworks from Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, Asia, America and Africa. It features thirty-six painted barks from Groote Eylandt from the 1940s and Indigenous artworks from Australia such as paintings by Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Butcher Cherel, and Rusty Peters, and photographs by Destiny Deacon


Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory

Darwin (NT), Australia

The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory houses extensive collections of Aboriginal art and cultural material, mainly from the Northern Territory and surrounding regions. The museum hosts the high-profile annual Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award.

Museum of Contemporary art

Sydney (NSW), Australia

The Museum of Contemporary Art has an extensive collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art featuring both contemporary and modern artworks. The museums has 3 permanent Aboriginal art collections: the Maningrida Collection of Aboriginal Art, gathering 600 works in fibre and other materials created by Maningrida artists in the 1980s; the Ramingining Collection of Aboriginal Art that gathers 276 items from north-eastern Arnhem Land collected since 1984; and the Arnott’s Biscuits Collection of Aboriginal Bark Paintings which consists of 274 bark paintings from the 60s to early 80s donated to the museum in 1993. Contemporary Aboriginal artists are also part of the permanent collection of contemporary art.

Museum Victoria

Melbourne (VIC), Australia

The Indigenous Cultures permanent collections of the Museum Victoria comprise internationally significant collections of indigenous art, ethnographic artefacts, archaeological items, photographs, archival documents, and film and sound recordings.

National Museum Australia

Canberra (ACT), Australia

The artworks and objects of the ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art collection’ belong to a unique body of works that was started in 1967 by the Council for Aboriginal Affairs. In 2007, the government transferred this collection of about 2000 pieces to the National Museum of Australia. Now the National Museum of Australia holds an extensive collection focusing on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultures and Histories that displays the history of Australia through experiences, stories and images of Indigenous Australians.

Queensland Museum

Brisbane (QLD), Australia

The Queensland Museum holds the state collection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artefacts and historical photographs.

South Australian Museum

Adelaide (SA), Australia

The Aboriginal Material Culture collections include Australian Aboriginal ethnographic artefacts and archaeology; it is made of 35,000 items, mostly aquired from 1890 and 1940, and are artefacts and archaeology from different communities across Australia. The artefacts and assemblages are from many different Indigenous communities, language groups and individuals across Australia. The Archaeology Collection includes the earliest formally excavated sites in Australia as well as more contemporary sites significant to South Australia.

 

Western Australian Museum

Perth (WA), Australia

The collection traces the impact and influence of Europeans on the Aboriginal peoples of Western Australia and includes objects representing the innovative use of introduced materials and the continuity of Aboriginal traditional knowledge and skills. Its Aboriginal Cultures Collection gathers approximatively 10,000 items that have been collected since its inception in 1892.

 

USA

 

Harvey Art Projects

Idaho, USA

Harvey Art Projects is an organization dedicated to developing cultural awareness, understanding and appreciation of the finest Aboriginal Art in America through regular exhibitions and satellite events.

Kluge Ruhe Aboriginal art collection of the University of Virginia

Charlottesville, USA

The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia is the only museum in the United States dedicated to the exhibition and study of Australian Aboriginal art

 

EUROPE

Museum of Contemporary Aboriginal Art (AAMU)

Utrecht, the Netherlands

The only museum totally dedicated to contemporary Australian Indigenous art in Europe. At the core of the AAMU collection are a number of works of art collected during the 1990’s, but also comprises more recent works.Every year AAMU presents two to three exhibitions where you can get to know the versatility, power and individuality of Aboriginal art. Each exhibition has a new perspective and shows the different directions and trends that have evolved in this contemporary art form. The works on display vary from magnificent paintings on linen and tree-bark paintings to thought-provoking installations and multimedia works by a younger generation of Indigenous artists.

 

Musée du quai Branly

Paris, France

The Musée du quai Branly has the largest international commission of contemporary Indigenous art from Australia. Paintings and Indigenous objects from Australia currently include synthetic polymer paintings, barks, weapons, boomerangs, sculptures and contemporary acrylic on canvas works. Eight Aboriginal artists were selected to represent the Australian Aboriginal art movement, following extensive consideration and assessment from around Australia by the museum and curatorial team. The artists include: Lena NyadbiPaddy Nyunkuny BedfordJudy WatsonGulumbu YunupinguJohn Mawurndjul, Tommy WatsonNingura NapurrulaMichael Riley and Karel Kupka.

 

Musée d’ethnographie de Genève

Genève, Switzerland

This museums gathers pieces from the five continents. Its Oceanian collection gathers more than 5000 pieces, with 900 of them coming from Australia.

 

Pitt Rivers Museum in the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

Oxford, UK

The museum gathers 585 000 artefacts, which represents one of the largest ethnographic collection of the UK. Some Aboriginal artworks are part of this collection.