First Peoples

First Peoples Daily, Now Showing
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

Bunjilaka’s exhibition on Victoria's first peoples.

Told through the voices of Victoria’s First Peoples, and utilising cutting-edge multimedia, Aboriginal language, artefacts and contemporary artworks, First Peoples tells the story of Aboriginal Victoria from the time of Creation to today.

First Peoples celebrates the history, culture, achievements and survival of Victoria’s Aboriginal people. 

  • Hear from Victorian Aboriginal people aged from 8 to 72 speaking about their identity, community and culture in the Deep Listening Space
  • Join the Messenger – virtual human guide – on a journey of discovery through the exhibition
  • Uncover stories and objects telling how the First Peoples lived before European settlement, highlighting Aboriginal Australia’s complex web of social, cultural and economic ties
  • Marvel at more than 600 historic and contemporary artefacts from across Victoria and Australia, from one of the world’s premier collections of Australian Aboriginal cultural material
  • See numerous contemporary artworks and objects commissioned from Koorie artists
  • Be transported to the time of Creation through the story of Bunjil (the wedge-tailed eagle), Creator for many Victorian Aboriginal clans, inside the Creation Cinema (closed for maintenance unitl further notice)

First Peoples is a permanent exhibition on display at the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at Melbourne Museum.

First Peoples is co-curated by Yulendj (“knowledge”) Group of Elders and community representatives from across Victoria with Museum Victoria staff - contributing stories, objects and deep cultural and historical knowledge to this exhibition.

First Peoples was developed with the significant support from Yulgibar Foundation, John T Reid Charitable Trusts and Rio Tinto Ltd.


Event Type: Permanent Exhibition

Daily, Now Showing
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM

First Peoples Gallery, Bunjilaka

Included with museum entry.
Museum Members receive FREE museum entry.

Comments (39)

sort by
Madeleine 8 February, 2016 17:32
Hi, I visited the exhibition for the first time today and loved it, I most enjoyed the jukebox present as you were leaving, can anyone tell me the name of the Jimmy little song it played?
Kit Kwan 11 January, 2016 11:56
Dear Sirs We will be visiting on 12 Feb 2016 and would like to know if there will be any performance in Kalaya on that day, thanks.
Steven 21 September, 2015 12:56
Hi, I was just wondering who the artist/creator of the wrapped in country section of the first peoples exhibition was?
Sera 21 June, 2015 11:16
I hadn't been to the museum in a couple of years until last weekend and only just got the opportunity to see the exhibit on the story of Creation in the theater. I fell absolutely in love with it. It was so mesmerizing. Great Job!
Ned 30 April, 2015 09:37
Hello, this sounds like an amazing exhibit. Is photography permitted? I'm looking to bring a class of design students to do some research around a project based on Aboriginal culture. Cheers,
Niki na Meadhra 30 December, 2014 21:07
Thank you so much for this beautiful exhibition and all that has been so generously, powerfully and thoughtfully shared. There is so much to learn. I had many tears today and much respect. Warm thanks to all involved.
Christine Blondel 15 November, 2014 13:24
A very thoughtful and instructive exhibition, with splendid objects! Only one thing: I was astonished to find very little about the boomerang. I am French and knows almost nothing on the subject, but it seemed to me that the boomerang was a very interesting invention, showing a good deal of work, trial and error, and the use of it was by no way simple... Has one any hint about its use to kill animals? Is there no description or representation of boomerangs by 19th century writers? By the way, is not it the only place in the world where it was designed, and moreover by men - or women? - who where, quickly speaking, in a civilisation before neolithic?
Nicole 22 September, 2015 11:14
Hi Christine! Descriptions of boomerangs from 19th century writers aren't needed because there are aboriginal people alive today who know how to make and use them. If you are interested and still in Victoria there are tutorials at Brambuk cultural centre in the Grampians. Boomerangs were not used by all aboriginal communities. There are several types of boomerangs as well and not all return. In regards to how they were used for hunting, in the session I attended at Brambuk we were told of their use in hunting swans. When swans paddle along in water they have their beaks in or near the water and their necks bent. A returning boomerang is thrown over their heads and they all look up, stretching up their necks. A non returning boomerang, sometimes called the number 7 because of it's shape, is then thrown at the stretched out necks of the swans to kill them.
David 14 November, 2014 14:49
It is great that a museum in Australia is honouring The Aboriginal People and telling their story for all to hear. Hopefully all museums in Australia will follow
Jothi 15 September, 2014 12:09
Mark, I had intended to to do the Bay Side City Council's Arts & Cultural Trails witht he kids. Could you please send thru the links that you menitoned... potentially about the time the last Ice Age Melted. Thanks
Esther Kirby 12 August, 2014 13:56
Being a part of exhibition is a real honour, I am so impressed with the respect given to Elders and all involved. the Technical people the staff, caterers, Thank you for excellent job that you have done. congratulations to all involved. God Bless you
David 4 August, 2014 20:31
I wish I had more time at the exhibition to look, listen and learn. Can someone please remind me of the quote on the wall of the deep listening area, about listening with your whole body?
Priscilla 14 July, 2014 10:48
What a marvellous award winning exhibition. We should be proud of our traditional land owners and celebrate their history.
Carolyn 14 June, 2014 10:59
I have visited this exhibition 3 times now as it is lovely to view all the pictures of family, I was just wondering if these pictures will ever be made available to view online so that I can show family members that can't get to this exhibition?
Discovery Centre 14 June, 2014 11:07
Hi Carolyn! Glad you enjoy the exhibition. I believe getting more of the content, including photos, is something that is currently being worked on, but I'll forward your question onwards to the gallery staff.
Carol Kirkwood Gardner 26 January, 2014 10:20
I visited your exhibition a few days ago and it is still resonating in my head and my heart. This is an *outstanding* exhibition and the curation is so thoughtful and imaginative. My favourite was the giant kinetic sculpture of Bunjil. This is amazing and wonderful and beautiful. Thank you.
Charles Balnaves 12 December, 2013 17:37
I have visited the new First Peoples exhibition three times already and have experienced it differently each time. First with an American who knew nothing of the first peoples of Australia and little of the first peoples of her own nation. We spent two hours going through the displays with me giving general background. She was most impressed with the whole display, especially the wide range of tools and implements on display and the stories of real people that are given. The second visit was with a woman who has worked with Aboriginal people in the past in the Northern Territory. She and I were impressed with the Spiritual depth that comes through when we spent a little time quietly at each of many parts of the display. We ended up sitting near the wall of photos and talking about our history with and personal experience of Aboriginal people and the wonderful ways in which this new First Peoples display allows something real of the long history of the Dreaming to come through. The third visit was also about 2 hours long and was a guided tour, led by the manager/curator of the display. This was yet another, much deeper, experience of this amazing tale of the First Peoples of Victoria, from the perspective of a member of those races. She drew us in to the story, giving of herself and her experience in life and dreaming and museum to help me to understand just a little of what this wonderful heritage of Australia means and that it remains a living, vital, beautiful, complex, sophisticated, evolving culture that has much to offer. I shall visit again with fresh eyes.
Denise Kirton 22 November, 2013 22:07
I found this exhibition both fascinating and profoundly moving. I will return to acquire more knowledge and to immerse myself in the sacred space of Bunjil
Brian Dempster 27 October, 2013 13:36
I very much enjoyed the "First People" exhibition and all the museum staff were very friendly and helpful. Also the Cafe was very well run and clean, much improved on my last visit to the Cafe.
John Wales 19 October, 2013 20:04
We are English and come to Melbourne twice a year to visit our Grandchildren. We took the 5 year old grandson to the Museum on a wet day. This exhibit is exceptional and we will return on the next trip. It has to be one of the best I have ever visited. The range and quality of Photos, Art, Craft, and Displays are magnificent. Congratulations to the team who put this together, it truly is a must see exhibit.
Wonnah 10 October, 2013 12:51
Its so good that we visit the museum, for the fact that -History is learning from the past.... I'm looking for the cause of the stolen generation..
Robyn Henderson 6 September, 2013 15:51
Can you tell me how long this exhibition will be on display for? Robyn (NSW resident)
Kate C 6 September, 2013 17:57
Hi Robyn, First Peoples is a long-term exhibition that will be here for the next 8-10 years.
Fe 5 September, 2013 08:09
Bunjilaka is a REALLY IMPORTANT part of Melbourne for me and I try to visit it as early as possible in my visits from overseas to this city where I have grandchildren living...the reference to the 'creator' I understand as a metaphor, like the 'big bang'... It's hard to find the livinG aboriginal tradition in the public institutions in Australia, for someone like me coming from outside and I HONOUR the Melbourne Museum for your commitment and your honest confrontation with history and the challenges we all continue to face. Science, with its embrace of the 'Archimedean point' a point far away from the earth and looking back down at it/us, has contributed to a lethal culture which is imperilling life on our planet...Science needs to be in dialogue with other ways of seeing, to confrontits own limitations and fatal flaws
Mark 29 November, 2013 15:32
Fe, Wow a very cool statement, a little spun, but cool. Lauren, I've been exploring Boon Wurrung 'Creation stories', (in our area Bunurong is used), and they are some of the most interesting Cultural stories you will find anywhere, the oldest living history in the world has to be explored. Bay Side City Council's Arts & Cultural Trails includes Artistic interpretations of BoonWurrung Elder Carolyn Briggs that stunned me when I read them. The Museum may have it in their exhibition, but if not, follow the link below and read these two stories, potentially about the time the last Ice Age Melted?, And it's part of local BoonWurrung living history? So to capture this record of the Earth and humanity, it has to be in their voice or lacks veracity. Link: Read Stories 9 & 14 9. The time of chaos 14. The Ancient Yarra River with Bunjil's eggs
Ruth 3 September, 2013 09:24
Hi, I'm very excited about attending the opening of the Bunjilaka exhibition. I have heard that there will be special events on the opening day and I am wondering what time the different events will be on
Mary-Anne 28 August, 2013 15:11
Is the first Peoples exhibit suitable/relevant to junior primary school students. Can you advise me what is available for Grade 1, 2 & 3 please?
Discovery Centre 18 September, 2013 15:47

Hi Mary-Anne,

Yes, the exhibition is suitable for younger children.

The Bunjil creation story in Our Story and the "Toy Stories" section of Many Nations will be of particular interest, as well as the activity table which is very interactive.

Have a look around the First Peoples website to get a feel for the exhibition and stay tuned.

We will also be sending information out to MVteachers so be sure to sign up if you haven’t already. We will have a trail for years F-2 but it won’t be ready until term 1, 2014 unfortunately.

Michael 21 August, 2013 16:29
Hi, I am concerned with how you use the phrase "Creator for many Victorian Aboriginal clans" and the "Creator Theatre". I hope the exhibit qualifies this with an explanation as to how this is a myth or religious belief and not scientific. Or is the Museum returning to the days in the 19C when exhibits were arranged to try and disprove evolution?
Mark Stevenson 8 January, 2014 18:31
It appears that our Bunjilaka Gallery honours the derivation of the word "museum" from the Ancient Greek mouseîon ("shrine of the Muses"), with all the other resonances those goddesses evoke (evoked?). I am not sure why Michael or Gary feel a need to confine our Museum/s to a narrow literalist cum positivist check-sheet (certainly the tone Gary's paper evoked for me). Speaking of the Muses, aren't they the beginning of all thinking? True thinking, which begins with imagination, which takes us toward what is open, toward what has not yet been thought? I expect most visitors will have enough imagination to accept this very particular invitation to think about different ways of speaking or saying creation. Or are we to ditch the words "creation" and "museum" from our languages and return to a world without Muses? Clio would be very much a-mused.
Gary Vines 6 January, 2014 10:51
I too had concerns about statements of belief and religion presented without qualification, and have discussed these in a review of the exhibition recently published in the Museums Australia Magazine - see:
Lauren 2 September, 2013 13:34
"Or is the Museum returning to the days in the 19C when exhibits were arranged to try and disprove evolution?" That's a bit of a long bow you are drawing there Michael.
Discovery Centre 23 August, 2013 17:35

Hi Michael, Melbourne Museum is a place that can safely and respectfully show many different ways of knowing the world and can present different systems of belief. Extensive exhibitions on evolution can be visited in our Science and Life Gallery. The First Peoples exhibition in Bunjilaka presents the Aboriginal Creation stories of Victoria, along with a rich history of around 2,000 generations of Aboriginal life in Victoria, and the shared journey of the past 200 years. We believe that pausing to listen to and appreciate peoples’ beliefs and ways of understanding the world is an important step towards reconciliation and living in a culturally diverse community.

Steph 7 September, 2012 15:34
I am looking for pictures of the freedom ride. can you help? thanks
Nic 30 August, 2012 15:57
I haven't been there for years and visited the museum on the weekend it was fantastic. I wish I had visited before.
Lee 24 August, 2012 11:45
Hello I am a sudent at the University of Ballarat. I am looking for information in relation to Bush Medicine not the healing properties of the plants but the dance and ceremonies that are used as well. COuld you please point me in the right direction books, exhibitions, anything really. thanks
Helena Remeijers Molhoek 1 February, 2016 21:37
Dear Lee, have you found information in relation to Bush Medicine (the dance and ceremonies as well as the healing properties?
Discovery Centre 15 March, 2012 12:07

Hi Ursula,
Please look at Museum Victoria's Collection Access guidelines to find out more.

Ursula O'Brien 15 March, 2012 11:19
Hello, could you please tell me if there is any way to view photos that are in the collection but not on show of Coranderrk Mission Station. Thank You Ursula O'Brien
Write your comment below All fields are required

We love receiving comments, but can’t always respond.

Image Gallery

Murray Cod artwork Feather flowers fish hook from Lake Tyers Yorta Yorta tool kit Bamagun (Tiwi ceremonial object) Reed necklace Dancers at Koorie Pride festival Bunjil carving

Related Resources