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Unsettled - The Australian Museum

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by Gwen O'Toole-Luscombe (subscribe)
Gwen O’Toole is an accomplished writer focusing on travel, food, wine and events management. Follow her on Instagram @Gwennieo
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Uncover Australian History at Unsettled
The Australian Museum (AM) is presenting one of the most significant exhibitions in its history. Free to the public and on now, Unsettled, is in featured the AM's new touring exhibition hall.

In this powerful exhibition, First Nations' voices tell Australia's foundation story including First Nations resilience and survival. First-hand accounts are presented through historical documents, large-scale artworks, immersive experiences and never-before-seen objects from the Australian Museum collection.

Australia Museum Melbourne, free melbourne, melbourne museums
Red, White and Blue by Danie Mellor, on of many incredible pieces in the new exhibition.


Unsettled is an evidence-based exhibition which takes visitors on a journey from the signal fires lit by Aboriginal people as a warning when Lieutenant Cook sailed up the east coast in 1770, to the resistance and resilience of First Nations peoples since colonisation in 1788. With more than 190 objects and images in the show and over 100 contributions by First Nations peoples across the country, Unsettled illuminates the power of truth-telling.

Distinguished Professor Larissa Behrendt, a Eualayai and Gamillaroi woman and AM Trustee said that Unsettled challenges the traditional relationship between First Nations peoples and collecting institutions. "By privileging of the perspective and views of First Nations peoples, Unsettled is redefining the conversations a museum can have with the people who walk into it. Not only can they look, listen, learn and deepen their understanding, they can do so knowing they are engaging in an authentic First Nations voice and vision," Behrendt said.

Opening on the week prior to National Reconciliation Week, Australian Museum Director and CEO Kim McKay said the Unsettled exhibition required the museum to reflect on its own history and emphasised the need to honour First Nations' voices.

The development of Unsettled was led by AM's First Nations Curator Laura McBride, a Wailwan and Kooma woman who is now Director, First Nations at the AM. McBride worked together with AM First Nations Curator Dr Mariko Smith, a Yuin woman with Japanese heritage, over the past two years to create Unsettled using a collaborative, community-centred approach and developing content through rigorous research.

To inform the themes and concepts within Unsettled, McBride and Dr Smith led one of the most significant First Nations-informed consultation efforts ever undertaken by the Australian Museum. The 2020 Project reached more than 2,500 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and revealed these communities wanted to see an exhibition that committed to evidence-based truth-telling of Australia's foundation story. "Without truth, our histories, our lands, our peoples and our relationships will remain unhealed and unsettled. We hope the Unsettled exhibition will shift perceptions and help us develop a national narrative of equity and respect and I encourage everyone to come experience it for themselves," said McBride.

Unsettled is open now for FREE at the Australian Museum through to Sunday 10 October. A full program of First Nations events will compliment this important exhibition, including tours, talks, films, workshops, meditation and weaving.
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Why? Uncover evidence-based truth-telling of Australia's foundation story.
When: Now until October 10, 2021
Phone: (03) 8341 7344
Where: 1 William Street Sydney NSW 2010 Australia
Cost: FREE
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