Representing the Stolen Generations in the National Museum of Australia


  • Dr Jay Arthur



stolen generations, museum object, Indigenous exhibits, exhibition curators, National Museum of Australia


The removal of Indigenous children from their parents has been part of the colonising relations of Indigenous and non-Indigenous people since the earliest days of the British occupation of Australia. The National Museum of Australia is beginning the process of developing a collection of objects that will enable it to tell this significant story.

The paper will look at this curatorial process of ‘remembering’. It will cover such issues as the structure of the Museum; the particular nature of the Indigenous section and its aims; the contested identity of an Indigenous object; relationships established between Museum staff and the community; the ‘implied contract’ of trust established with this community in order to tell their stories; and the ‘object as witness’ and the ‘object as betrayer’.