Sydney, 30 July 2019: Australia’s largest collection of cultural objects, artworks and archaeological material from the Pacific has been welcomed to its new home at the Australian Museum’s (AM) recently established Cultural Collections Centre in Rydalmere. More than 60 members of the NSW Pacific community attended the welcome.
Previously stored in the basement space of the AM’s William Street site, the Pacific Collection was relocated to a new specially-equipped facility providing better access and conservation for the objects, community meeting rooms for research, cultural workshops and Pacific dignatory visits.
The AM holds one of the largest Pacific collections in the world and the largest in Australia, with over 60,000 objects in total; 40,000 of these are now held at the new Cultural Collections Centre in Rydalmere with the remainder housed at Castle Hill and the AM.
The welcome ceremony for the new Centre included a Welcome to Country by Darug Elder Erin Wilkins; PNG welcome by Dr Michael Mel (AM Manager, Pacific & International Collections); Maori welcome by Logan Metcalfe and pan Pacific cultural performance by Matavai Cultural Arts.
During the ceremony, AM Director & CEO Kim McKay AO reiterated the AM’s commitment to connecting communities with their objects.
“The Pacific Collection is one of our nation’s great cultural assets imbued with regional significance. As custodian of this important world-renowned collection, a key priority for the AM team is to increase community’s involvement and interaction with the Collection.
“Having it housed in this new facility in Western Sydney, with space for community to access and interact with objects in rooms specifically created for welcome and discussion, is an important advantage of the new Centre,” she said.
Dr Michael Mel and Dr Jenny Newell, Managers of the AM’s Pacific & International Collections, managed all aspects of the Collection’s relocation ensuring the utmost respect and care in accordance with cultural protocols and community expectations. The AM team worked closely with leading international art transport company IAS Logistics to safely and securely transport the collection to Rydalmere. More than 50 people were involve in packing and moving the collection.
Dr Mel developed a detailed cultural protocol for the move which was strictly adhered to by all involved in preparing and transporting the collection to the new facility.
The AM has also established a new Pacific Cultural Collection Advisory Panel comprising five representatives of the NSW Pacific community, who will work with the AM to improve access to the Collection and increase communication between the AM and Pacific communities in NSW.
“We look forward to more collaboration and partnership with Pacific researchers, artists, and community leaders to develop the knowledge and information relating to the Pacific Collection so these will become accessible to all.
“As we continue to learn from community and elders, the holders of knowledge and wisdom from the Pacific, I look forward to working with them to ensure future plans for the collection have community access and engagement as a key focus,” Dr Mel said.
The inaugural panel members, appointed for a three-year term, were formally introduced during the ceremony. The panel comprises:
- Waskam Emelda Davis
- Mal Fruean
- Steven Gagau
- Myles Maniapoto
- Michael Mel (Ph.D)
- Rita Uechtritz
The Pacific Collection will continue to be accessible to the community and researchers by appointment. For more information about the Pacific Collection, visit https://australian.museum/learn/cultures/pacific-collection/
Media images and interviews available on request. Media contact: Shirani Glover 0401 915 234