Rob McWilliams

Collection Manager, Indigenous Restricted Collections

Rob works with material in the museum's Restricted Collections, which include Indigenous Ancestral Remains, and men’s ceremonial objects.


Between 1997 to present, Rob has been employed on a range of projects within Indigenous Collections at Museum Victoria, variously assisting with the preparation, packing and relocation of the Indigenous Collections from Swanston Street to Melbourne Museum (1997-2000), and the cataloguing and documenting of skeletal remains, objects, manuscripts, and photographs in the Indigenous Collections. Between MV projects, he was a member of a team of cataloguers of the Melbourne Cricket Club Museum collections (2002-2004).

Previously, Rob taught History (Australian, European, 20th Century, and Revolutions) and Australian Studies in secondary schools. He returned to study to complete a Graduate Diploma in Humanities (Archaeology) with a focus on Australian Indigenous occupation of southeastern Australia, and an Honours thesis – A History of Approaches to the Analysis of Australian Aboriginal Stone Artefacts.

His broader interests are in the history, philosophy and sociology of ideas.

Current Activities

Rob is a member of Museum Victoria’s Repatriation Team. The team’s primary aim is to repatriate Australian Indigenous Ancestral Remains and men’s ceremonial objects by -

  • providing information to Communities - from the museum’s database, historical documentation and archives - about the original provenance of Ancestral Remains and ceremonial objects currently in the museum’s custody
  • providing physical access to these ‘restricted’ collections by Community members, and authorised researchers
  • assisting Communities to prepare remains for repatriation and reburial
  • answering enquiries from communities, organisations - e.g. Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria (OAAV), Aboriginal Heritage Council, Registered Aboriginal Parties (RAPs), and other Traditional Owner organisations/Land Councils etc - about this collection, and the museum’s repatriation activities and history.
  • receipting remains lodged at the museum for ‘safe keeping’ by the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria, and providing physical access to OAAV staff as required
  • compiling statistics and information for reports to Museum Victoria management, the museum’s Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee, and Victorian State and Federal Government authorities.