Ancestors, Artefacts, Empire: Indigenous Australia in British and Irish Museum

Museums across the United Kingdom and Ireland hold over 39,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artworks and artefacts. Gifted, sold, exchanged and bartered by Indigenous people, and accepted, bought and taken by explorers, travellers and colonial collectors and these rare objects date from 1770 to the present day, representing all regions of the vast Australian continent.

Dispersed and distanced from their origins, 160 objects are gathered together for the first time in Ancestors, artefacts, empire: Indigenous Australia in British and Irish museums. Selected from 30 public museums, they are evidence of the complex and often difficult relationships between Indigenous Australians and British people and institutions and are powerful conduits for re-telling that history.

Twenty-two Indigenous, Australian and international experts interweave accounts of objects, makers and communities with collectors, networks and institutions. These multi-strand narratives, entwining ancestral pasts, expanding empires and colonisation with the contemporary moment, explore the importance of this material connecting Britain and Ireland and Australia.

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