A new book, Ancestors, Artefacts, Empire: Indigenous Australia in British and Irish Museums, edited by ACIH Co-Director Maria Nugent, British Museum curator, Gaye Sculthorpe, and CASS Professor Howard Morphy has been launched at the British Museum by the Hon Julia Gillard.
Ancestors, Artefacts, Empire is co-published by the British Museum and the National Museum of Australia. Its 22 contributors weave together deeply-contextualised accounts of objects and object-types; of makers, communities and regions; and of collectors, networks and institutions, while also exploring the meanings and importance of this material in Australia, Britain and Ireland, and the world today. The book uses nearly 160 artefacts, selected from over 30 public museums in Britain and Ireland—both large metropolitan and small regional museums—to present a multi-stranded narrative that opens up vistas on Britain's Australian history as much as Australia's British history.
The book launch was part of the launch of the UK/Australia Season of Culture organised by the British High Commission in London. It included a panel discussion between Gaye Sculthorpe, Chris Gosden (Pitt Rivers Museum) and Nicholas Thomas (Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge) that was chaired by Julia Gillard. Curator Jilda Andrews and Maria Nugent participated via a pre-recorded conversation.
The book will have its Australian launch in Canberra in coming months.