Research

Australian Research Council Grants

1. How Meston’s “Wild Australia Show” Shaped Australian Aboriginal History

Australian Research Council Grant (ARC), 2016-2019

This project maps the complex interactions of Aboriginal agency, performance and material culture in the “Wild Australia Show”, a troupe of 27 Indigenous people from Queensland’s frontier toured by Archibald Meston in 1892 and 1893 to Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne. It examines the politics and performance and the ideas of race and Indigeneity and the commodification of Indigenous people and performance in the late 19th century, and its impact on the public. It further reconnects images, objects and individuals in the past as well as connects with the descendants of the troupe members.

Museum Victoria Partner Investigators: Lindy Allen and Michelle Stevenson.

Partners Investigators: University of Queensland, Australian National University, Queensland Museum, State Library of New South Wales.

2. Revealing and Researching Early Unpublished Anthropology of Australia and the Pacific: The Legacy of Fison and Howitt

Australian Research Council Grant (ARC), 2016-19

Lorimer Fison and Alfred Howitt were pioneers of Australian anthropology. From the 1870s, they compiled an extensive archive of ethnographic information on Aboriginal groups throughout Victoria, NSW, South & Central Australia and Queensland. Composed of over 12,000 unpublished pages, this significant archive is stored at Museum Victoria and the State Library of Victoria. The project aims to (i) transcribe, catalogue and digitise this material and make it available on a website for scholars and Aboriginal people and (ii) use this material to undertake research into; the development of anthropology in Australia, Aboriginal kinship systems, frontier history, linguistics, biography and other areas.

Museum Victoria Partner Investigators: Dr Philip Batty and Mary Morris.

Partners: Deakin University, State Library of Victoria, Native Title Services Victoria, Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages, University of Western Sydney, The Australian National University, La Trobe University.

3. Migration, Cultural Diversity and Television: Reflecting Modern Australia

Australian Research Council Grant (ARC), 2016-18

This project documents the evolving history of popular television and its contribution to national discussions about migration, cultural diversity and citizenship across six decades. Through analysis of selected television programs that depict the contemporary nation, the study historicises the intersections between popular television, its representations of cultural diversity and its public interventions. The cross-disciplinary approach combines the critical examination of production processes and program content with the personal perspectives of intergenerational migrant communities, youth and key industry figures.

Museum Victoria Partner Investigators: Dr Moya McFadzean and Michael Reason.

Partners: University of Melbourne, University of Wollongong and Australian Centre for the Moving Image

Project website: Migration, cultural diversity and television.

4. Excavating Macgregor: re-connecting a colonial museum collection

Australian Research Council Grant (ARC), 2015-17

Sir William MacGregor was the first Administrator of British New Guinea. Sensing the impacts of colonisation, MacGregor made a significant collection of objects between 1888 and 1898, specifically for its future citizens. This comprehensive legacy of 13000 objects did not remain in the country but was dispersed to three Australian and six overseas museums. The project aims to re-assemble and re-connect this material by 'excavating' its private and official components and investigate how indigenous groups used objects to negotiate with the new colonial government.

Museum Victoria Partner Investigators: Dr Elizabeth Bonshek.

MV Staff: Penny Ikinger.

Partner Investigators: University of Sydney, Australian Museum and Queensland Museum.

Project website: Excavating Macgregor: re-connecting a colonial museum collection.

5. The Legacy of 50 Years Collecting at Milingimbi

Australian Research Council Grant (ARC), 2013-2016

This project identifies, documents and brings together collections made at Milingimbi in eastern Arnhem Land during the mission years (1923-1973). These are dispersed across more than 50 museums, galleries, libraries and archives globally and the project collates the data and working with the Milingimbi community to investigate their value, meaning and significance to Yolngu today.

Museum Victoria Partner Investigators: Lindy Allen.

Partners: Australian National University.

Project website: The Legacy of 50 Years Collecting at Milingimbi Mission.

McCoy Grants

1. Facilitating Contemporary Indigenous Engagement with the Donald Thomson Collections from the Western Desert region between 1957- 65

McCoy Grant, 2016-17

This project engages with the last few remaining Pintupi people who encountered the anthropologist, Donald Thomson, on his expeditions to the Western Desert between 1957 and 1965. It aims to enrich and enliven items that Thomson collected - plants and ochre, wood and stone - sourced from this region, by reconnecting them with people, places, photographs and films. It consolidates existing information and contributes new knowledge about these objects, the people and practices that surrounded them. It also aims to build connections and partnerships between the Museum and members of the Pintupi community.

Museum Victoria Participant: Dr Philip Batty.

Partner: University of Melbourne.

2. Ochres, Isotopes and Aboriginal Cultural Knowledge

McCoy Grant, 2015-17

This project will conduct a comparative isotopic analysis of ochres extracted from Aboriginal mines in Central Australia with ochre residues on artefacts from the same region stored at Museum Victoria. Using Pb (lead) isotopes, it is hoped that this comparative analysis will reveal a) the movement, or ‘geographical histories’ of the selected objects b) the extent of ochre trading routes c) the relationship between particular types of ochre and their exclusive use on certain ceremonial objects d) a match between ceremonial objects and their original storage centers, e) the cultural significance of ochre in the traditions of Central Australian Aboriginal people.

Museum Victoria Participant: Dr Philip Batty.

Partners: University of Melbourne.

Cultural and Public Engagement Initiative Grant

1. Donald Thomson Collection Film Project Phase One: digitization, community consultation and documentation

Cultural and Public Engagement Initiative Grant, 2015-17

Between 1957 and 1965 Thomson mounted three expeditions to study the Pintupi people of the Gibson and Great Sandy deserts. In total, the Museum holds approximately 25,000 ft. (7620 m) of film from his expeditions. Thomson shot 8 hours of film of the Pintupi between 1957 and 1961 just as they were making first contact with outsiders. Approximately 84 separate rolls of film are stored at Museum Victoria. This project aims to (i) digitize the footage( ii) take it to Pintupi communities and consult / document it with them (iii) seek further funding to produce a new film using this footage.

Museum Victoria Participant: Dr Philip Batty.

Partner: University of Melbourne.