Arts and Aboriginal Australia: decolonisation or reconciliation?

A Reconciliation Week at the University of Sydney event, co-presented with the Macleay Museum, at the University of Sydney

31 May, 2017

This year, National Reconciliation Week commemorates two significant milestones in Australian history: 50 years since the 1967 referendum and 25 years since the Murray Island Land Case ‘Mabo’ Decision.

In those 50 years museums have slowly changed from exhibitions ‘about’ Indigenous peoples to exhibitions by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander curators. This year also marks 25 years of the University of Sydney’s own repatriation program, part of an International reconciliation between museums and colonised peoples.

The theme of this year’s Reconciliation week asks us to ‘take the next steps.’ As the University of Sydney embarks on the building of the new Chau Chak Wing Museum, we will continue to question how exhibitions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections can engage all visitors meaningfully.

How can museums embed the diversity of knowledge and experience that these objects signify for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities today?

Join us for an evening of questioning and striving to go further.


  • Sharni Jones, Manager of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander collections at the Australian Museum
  • Stephen Gilchrist, Associate Lecturer Department of Art History, University of Sydney
  • Rodney Kelly, Gweagal activist for the repatriation of ancestral collections to Aboriginal ownership
  • Amanda Reynolds, Stella Stories artist, curator, cultural consultant and editor
  • Matt Poll, (panel chair) Assistant Curator, Indigenous Heritage, Macleay Museum, Sydney University Museums