What is Bunjilaka?

Bunjilaka is the Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum, a venue of Museum Victoria. It was developed to empower Aboriginal Australians to interpret their own cultural heritage, for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.

The name Bunjilaka is derived from the word 'Bunjil' (Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung language). Bunjil was a significant Creation Ancestor for most of Victoria's Aboriginal language groups; 'Aka' means land or place. The name was selected after consultation with the local Aboriginal people from the Boon Wurrung and Woi Wurrung groups, who are the traditional owners of Melbourne. The words evoke the sense of a 'creation place'.

Bunjilaka holds Aboriginal cultural heritage items from a collection that is one of the most significant in the world. In addition to exhibition and performance spaces, there are private areas such as a Keeping Place where the community can meet and view their cultural heritage material. This enables Aboriginal people to retain ownership and interpretation of the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage material in Museum Victoria's collections and actively and directly contribute to the preservation of their culture.

The development of Bunjilaka started with a Smoking Ceremony, performed by the traditional owners of Melbourne. Community consultation over the six years before opening ensured that Bunjilaka, the built spaces, exhibitions and events, represent the aspirations of Aboriginal communities in Victoria.

The museum recognises the rights and perspectives of Aboriginal people and, through Bunjilaka, aims to further partnerships with Aboriginal communities, promote reconciliation to all visitors and actively supports Indigenous rights and perspectives through exhibitions, performances and activities.

A sub-committee of the Museums Board of Victoria, the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee is constituted of 11 members, comprising up to two members of the Museums Board, the Chief Executive Officer of Museum Victoria, the Manager of Bunjilaka and seven members of the Indigenous community. This sub-committee offers advice and leadership on Indigenous issues and is another means of consultation with communities.