65,000 Years: A Short History of Australian Art to Headline Potter Museum of Art Re-opening

65,000 Years: A Short History of Australian Art to Headline Potter Museum of Art Re-opening

NAARM (MELBOURNE), VIC – The highly anticipated re-opening of the Potter Museum of Art (The Potter) at the University of Melbourne will be marked by an extraordinary exhibition celebrating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. Titled 65,000 Years: A Short History of Australian Art, the exhibition will delve into the nation’s art history, examining the significant contributions of Indigenous artists and the belated recognition of their work.

Curated by Professor Marcia Langton, Associate Provost Judith Ryan, and Shanysa McConville, in consultation with Indigenous custodians, the exhibition will feature over 400 artworks and seven major new artist commissions by leading contemporary Indigenous artists. It aims to highlight the cultural and artistic traditions, knowledge, and agency of Indigenous Australians.

“The ironic title of this exhibition refers to the belated and reluctant acceptance of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art into the fine art canon by Australian curators, collectors, art critics, and historians in the last quarter of the 20th Century,” explained Professor Langton. “65,000 Years: A Short History of Australian Art celebrates Indigenous art as it is increasingly recognised in galleries and collections around the world – as the greatest single revolution in Australian art.”

A Historic Milestone for The Potter

Director of Art Museums, Charlotte Day, emphasized the unique positioning of The Potter to host such a landmark exhibition. “Since 1853, the University has collected works of art, cultural objects, and records that form a profoundly important archive. For the first time, these Indigenous collections will be exhibited together and interpreted by authoritative Indigenous scholars and other leading experts,” Ms. Day said.

The exhibition will be part of a year-long program celebrating the museum’s re-opening and its return to serving as a cultural hub for the community. The exhibition will not only highlight the rise in prominence and popularity of Indigenous art in Australia but also educate visitors on important cultural and design traditions.

Educational Initiatives

Alongside the exhibition, a new education initiative will be launched to provide resources that deepen the understanding of First Nations art, history, and culture for both primary and tertiary students. This initiative, developed in partnership with the University’s Ngarrngga Project, aims to create lasting educational materials. Led by Professor Melitta Hogarth, Professor Aaron Corn, and Professor Jim Watterston, the project collaborates with Indigenous knowledge experts to innovate curriculum resources.

Truth-Telling and Reflection

The exhibition and accompanying educational programs come at a time when the University of Melbourne is confronting its controversial past. A new book, Dhoombak Goobgoowana: A History of Indigenous Australia and the University of Melbourne, reveals a history of racism and eugenics within the institution. Vice-Chancellor Professor Duncan Maskell acknowledged the significance of this truth-telling exercise. “It will provide a vital platform for Indigenous storytelling and encourage dialogue about the importance of Indigenous culture, history, and art,” he said.

Comprehensive Publication

To complement the exhibition, a publication edited by Judith Ryan and Professor Langton will be released by Thames & Hudson on September 24 this year. The book will feature new writings by 25 thinkers across various disciplines, further exploring the extensive body of artwork in the exhibition across different media, time periods, regions, and language groups.

As the reopening of The Potter approaches, more information on the program and additional details about the exhibition will be announced later this year. The museum invites all art enthusiasts and community members to join in celebrating the rich heritage and artistic achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

For more details, please visit the Potter Museum of Art’s official website.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Potter Museum of Art

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Source: https://nit.com.au/27-06-2024/12203/the-potter-to-re-open-in-2025-with-celebration-of-indigenous-art

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