Central Australian Ethnographic Collection

The Central Australian Ethnographic Collection encompasses diverse examples of material culture items from the Arrernte, Warlpiri, Warumungu, Kaytej, Pitjantjatjara and other Aboriginal peoples of Central Australia.

Covering a broad timeframe and building on the collections of Baldwin Spencer from 1894 to 1912, the collection includes some of the most significant anthropological objects in Australia, supplemented by archival manuscript, film, and photographic records.

Significant items

  • Arrernte, Warlpiri and Warumungu ethnographic material.
  • An extensive collection of rare decorated stone knives (Warumangu) acquired by Spencer and Gillen in 1901-02.
  • Churmurillia mourning headdress made from the bones of small animals, some of which are now close to extinction.
  • Ceremonial headdresses from Mungerainie Bore, South Australia, collected in 1921.
  • Kimberly points collection, 19th century to 1950s.
  • Central Australian body ornaments made from spinifex resin, animal teeth and bird claws.
  • Contemporary Western Desert carvings.
  • Pitjantjatjara women's work including textiles, paintings and prints.
  • Western Desert paintings, particularly Liwirringki Jukurrpa (Burrowing Skink) by Warlukurlangu artists and Tjampirrpunkungku by Katara Nampitjinpa.
  • Photographs from Ernabella, taken by Richard Seeger, 1940s-50s.
  • Baldwin Spencer film, wax cylinder and photographic collection, 1900-20.