'Objects’ other histories: Researching museum collections for new material histories of Australian-British encounters’

On 24 May 2019, Maria Nugent co-convened a seminar at the University of Cambridge Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH) with Dr Gaye Sculthorpe, British Museum, and Associate Professor Penelope Edmonds, University of Tasmania, and chaired by CRASSH co-director Professor Jan-Melissa Schramm. Under the heading ‘Objects’ other histories: Researching museum collections for new material histories of Australian-British encounters’, the seminar canvassed the urgent and often politically-charged work of accessing, researching and exhibiting museum objects. We addressed the ways in which material culture held in international museums can be used to tell new, materially-rich histories of empire and colony, and in ways that privilege the experiences and perspectives of the object-makers, their communities and descendants. This historical work is taking place within research contexts that are shaped by renewed relationships between museums, Indigenous scholars and communities, and university-based researchers. The seminar was well attended, and we received a great deal of interest from staff and postgraduates. That interest is fuelled by current debates in the UK and Europe, around return, repatriation and the ongoing decolonisation of museums, which have intensified since the release of the Sarr and Savoy Report late last year. 

You can find more information here: http://restitutionreport2018.com/sarr_savoy_en.pdf

Dr Sculthorpe and Dr Nugent are currently part of an ARC Linkage Project (LP150100423), The Relational Museum and its Objects, and spoke on some of the work they are doing as part of that project.

Date & time

Fri 24 May 2019, 3.30–5.30pm


Cambridge University


Dr Maria Nugent (ANU)
Dr Gaye Sculthorpe (British Museum)
Associate Professor Penelope Edmonds (University of Tasmania)
Professor Jan-Melissa Schramm (Cambridge)


Australian Centre for Indigenous History


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