Dr Jude Philp

Senior Curator, Macleay Museum

PhD Camb MPhil BA

Biographical details

As senior curator of the Macleay Museum Jude is interested in stimulating research into the collections and increasing the purposefulness of museum holdings through exhibition, research and events. Jude's current research is in the world of ‘British New Guinea’ and the 19th century practice of natural history for museums.

Research interests

  • History and culture of the Pacific
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Museum practice
  • 19th century Natural History
  • Taxidermy


  • Member of the HfE Observatory
  • Contributor to The Antipodean Laboratory: Humanity, Sovereignty, and Environment in Southern Oceans and Lands, 1700-2009. Funded through the Andrew Mellon Foundation (New York).
  • Fellow of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
  • Member of the Australian Anthropological Society.
  • Member of Sydney Environment Institute.

Selected Research Projects and Grants

Excavating MacGregor: re-connecting a colonial museum collection
ARC Discovery Project DP150103518 (2015-2017)

Project team: Annie Clarke (University of Sydney), Jude Philp (Macleay Museum), Robin Torrence (Australian Museum), Chantal Knowles (Queensland Museum)

Sensing the impacts of colonisation, the first Administrator of British New Guinea William MacGregor made a significant collection of objects specifically for its future citizens. This comprehensive legacy of 13 000 objects did not remain in the country but was dispersed to three Australian and six overseas museums. Our aim is to re-assemble and re-connect this material by 'excavating' its private and official components. This research aims to focus on the makers and traders to disentangle the social relationships embedded in the objects. Using material-centred, assemblage-based archaeological approaches, we aim to investigate how indigenous groups used objects to negotiate with the new colonial government.

Cultures of Coast and Sea: maritime environmental, cultural and ethnographic histories of north-east Australia
ARC Linkage LP110200041 (2011-2014).

Led by Professor Iain McCalman with Dr Stephanie Anderson, Dr Jude Philp, Dr Nigel Erskine, Mr Michael Crayford and Dr Michael Davis (APDI). This project is a partnership between the University of Sydney, Australian National Maritime Museum, the Queensland Museum and the Silentworld Foundation.

Using new cross-disciplinary approaches and methods, this collaboration between university scholars, museum curators and a philanthropic foundation will study the impact of maritime and marine environmental and cultural change on the peoples and habitats of the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait from the eighteenth century to the present.

The original field anthropologist: Nikolai Miklouho-Maclay in Oceania, 1871-1883
ARC Discovery DP110104578 (2011-2014).

Led by Drs Chris Ballard, Jude Philp and Elena Govor. A partnership with Australian National University.

This project restores the nineteenth century Russian anthropologist Nikolai Miklouh-Maclay to a central position in the histories of anthropology and of the European exploration of Oceania. Interviews with the source communities amongst which he lived will be used to analyse his field drawings and journals, most never previously published in English.

Producers and Collectors: Uncovering the Role of Indigenous Agency in the Formation of Museum Collections.
ARC Linkage LP0669137 (2006-2009).

Led by Robin Torrence, Jude Philp and Annie Clarke. A partnership with Australian Museum. With PhD candidate Erna Lilje (Thesis: From Maker to Museum: Fibre skirts from Central Province, PNG)

Employing archaeological methods and assemblage analysis to ethnographic collections the history of social relations between Papua New Guineans and 'outsiders' is examined. By unlocking information about the origin and history of ethnographic collections from Australia's oldest museum, their cultural significance will be shared more widely.



Co-Curator, with Anthony Gill, Robert Blackburn and Leah Lui-Chivizhe, Stuffed stitched studied: 19th century Australian taxidermy, Macleay Museum, Nov 2014-May 2015


Co-Curator, with Cecily Oakley and Anthony Gill, The Meaning of Life: Celebrating 50 years of Biological Sciences at the University of Sydney, Macleay Museum, Sep 2012- March 2013


Curator, Coral: art, science, life, Macleay Museum,  Jan-Sep 2012


Curator, Quest for Red: by trade and experiment, Macleay Museum, Mar-Dec 2011


Co-Curator, project led by Carolyn Strange, Griffith Taylor Global Geologist , Macleay Museum, June- Oct 2009


Curator, Accidental Encounters, Macleay Museum, Feb-June 2009


Co-Curator, with Peter Hilton and Jan Brazier, Small Matters: 50 years of microscopy at the University of Sydney, Macleay Museum,  Aug 2008-Jan 2009


Co-Curator, project led by Rebecca Conway, People, power, politics: the first generation of anthropologists at the University of Sydney, Macleay Museum, Feb-July 2008


Curator, Museum: Robyn Stacey, Macleay Museum, Nov-Dec 2007      


Curator, Rational order: Carl von Linne 1707-1778, Macleay Museum, Feb-Oct 2007


Curator, On the Inside anatomy and learning, Macleay Museum, May-June 2006

Selected publications


Philp, J. (2013). ”Re-examining the ‘insides’ and ‘attitudes’ of animal specimens: The Macleay Museums Victorian Taxidermy Project. In Museums Australia Magazine. Vol 21(3), 16-20.


Philp, J. (2013). ‘Shirts for skirts, nets for nails: trade with the crew of HMS Rattlesnake’. In Lissant Bolton, Nicholas Thomas, Elizabeth Bonshek and Julie Adams. (eds.) Melanesia: Art and Encounter. London: British Museum Press. pp. 39-43.


Philp, J. (2011). “Hedley takes a holiday”. In S Byrne, A Clarke, R Harrison, R Torrence (eds.) Unpacking the collections: Museums, Identity and Agency. One World Archaeology Series, Springer. pp. 269-288.  


Philp, J. (2010). “The Quest for Red” in Stephen, A., Philp, J., Turner, M. Into the Light: The Cultural Collections of The University of Sydney. Sydney: The University of Sydney . pp. 74-115


Philp, J. (2009). “Days of desolation on the South Coast: HMS Rattlesnake”. In Iain McCalman and Nigel Erskine(eds.) In the Wake of the Beagle. Sydney: UNSW. pp. 124-137.


Philp, J. Bin-Juda, L. Herle, A. (2007). “Journey across the Stairs: Gab Titui Cultural Centre, Torres Strait”. In N. Stanley (ed) The Future of Indigenous Museums. New York: Berghahn Books. pp. 93-116.  


Philp, J. (2007). “Collection Notes”. In Robyn Stacey and Ashley Hay (eds.) Museum: the Macleays, their collection and the search for order. Port Melbourne, Vic: Cambridge University Press. pp. 160-177.


Philp, J. (2007). “Fixing New Guinea: ‘The Royal Geographical Society expedition to the Western Province of PNG 1885’”. In Cochrane & Quanchi (eds.) Hunting the Collectors: Pacific collections in Australian galleries, museums and archives. Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Press.


Philp, J. "Torres Strait Islands" Grove Music Online. Oxford Music Online. Oxford University Press. http://www.oxfordmusiconline.com/subscriber/article/grove/music/51163 .


Philp, J. Gardener, H. (2006). “Photography and Christian Mission: George Brown's images of the New Britain Mission 1875-80” Journal of Pacific History Special Issue 41(2). pp. 175-190.


Philp, J. (2004). “Embryonic Science: photographs of AC Haddon 1888 – 1898”. In R. Davis (ed). Woven Histories Dancing Lives. Canberra: Aboriginal Studies Press. pp. 90-106.  


Philp, J. (2001). Past Times: Torres Strait Islander material from the Haddon collection. Exhibition catalogue. National Museum of Australia. 


Philp, J. Hearle, A. (1998). Torres Strait Islanders: an exhibition marking the centenary of the 1898 Cambridge Anthropological Expedition. Exhibition catalogue.Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Cambridge University.