Sue Wyatt, Self Portrait with Friends
Kalgoorlie 1997 [WU9529] Reproduced by courtesy of the Artist
A New Home
The University plans to develop an evocative new home to house its internationally significant Berndt Museum collection; one of Australia’s finest assemblages of contemporary and historic Aboriginal art.
The University of Western Australia Berndt Museum of Anthropology will become the most influential exhibition and research institution across Australia.
THE collections of the Berndt Museum rank as one of the world’s most prestigious and stunning assemblages of Australian Aboriginal cultural heritage. Numbering over 11,500 artworks, they comprise an unparalleled range of both historical and contemporary Australian and Papua New Guinean Indigenous art, as well as a highly significant Asian collection. A new Museum will inspire teaching and research, and promote knowledge and insights into the cultures of Australia and Asia. It will provide an energising culture of international excellence in research, teaching and learning. It will promote an ethical and creative spirit in museum practice. The corpus of knowledge held in the Museum has been and will continue to be a strong positive influence for alumni, business, industry, government and the professions. It is tomorrow’s museum.
The role of Indigenous museums is becoming increasingly important in today’s world, as they promote much-needed insights into other cultures. The vision for Australia’s new Berndt Museum of Anthropology is to be a vibrant, out-going and accessible museum of the contemporary, and to promote understanding of and respect for Australian Indigenous and Asian cultures.
THE present Berndt Museum was established in 1976 by the University Senate to house, among others, the outstanding collections assembled by eminent anthropologists Ronald and Catherine Berndt over their lifetime and donated to the University.
The Museum’s collections span more than 60 years. The Berndts long foresaw today’s appreciation of Indigenous art.
Since the Berndts’ original gift of the Australian Indigenous collection, and the bequest of their Asian Collection, the scope of the Museum’s collections has increased sevenfold, through an active acquisitions policy, and through further donations by distinguished individuals who understood that the Museum’s collections represent a unique asset to the world’s cultural traditions.
The collections provide a unique portal to a distinctive intellectual experience, promoting a valued proximity of artists to the wider Australian community, as well as a direct engagement with Indigenous peoples in the Twenty-First century.
With less than 1% of this extraordinary collection on display, the Museum has entirely outgrown its present site at the University of Western Australia. The time has come to create a permanent, eminently visible and evocative building, with the powerful presence to match these masterworks of Indigenous art.
Through a Campaign to create a new site for the Berndt Museum and the University’s indigenous collections, it will also enhance the opportunity for further collections to be acquired.
Malcolm Shaw, Ngaanyatjarra elder,
Mt Margaret 1982 [P34934]
‘Aboriginal art is a snapshot on the Dreaming.
It’s like your camera. It’s an image for the future,
when it will [then] be something of the past.’
—Malcolm Shaw, Ngaanyatjarra elder 1983
THE Museum’s goal is to generate a visitor experience that is both illuminating and satisfying. As a profound cultural meeting place, the new Museum will create opportunities for members of the Indigenous and Asian communities to reconnect with their own heritage.
The Berndt Museum is a focus for the exchange of information, education, cultural research and cultural maintenance in Australia. It provides a national resource of highly significant cultural information of value to Australian researchers and Indigenous communities, as well as to the international sector. The Museum maintains and seeks to extend vital two-way linkages between itself and communities from which its collections originate.
A structured program has been developed for touring exhibitions around Australia and also overseas. These have included Nyungar Landscapes: Aboriginal child art from the South-West, Western Australia (1992), Djalkiri Wänga: the land is my foundation (1996), Kril Kril: dreaming the Dreaming (Paris 1998), Aboriginal artists of the South-West: past and present (2000), On Track: Contemporary Aboriginal art from Western Australia (2004) and On the Outskirts (2005). We are currently developing plans to tour nationally ‘Jimmy Pike’s Artlines: you call it desert, we used to live there’ (2012) with Art on the Move, to be possibly sponsored by Visions Australia. This program is to be pursued in the future. International projects will further enhance the standing of the Museum and its collections on the world stage.
The Museum plans to develop closer relationships with North American, European and Asian education and research institutions. Internet-based teaching will emphasize its value as a vital research tool.
‘When I was young, I saw an old man dancing around holding saplings late one night on the Reserve. I thought about him over the years. Later I saw Revel’s corroboree paintings at the Berndt Museum’s exhibition.
That’s what made me paint this.’
—Toogar Jerry Morrison, Nyungar artist 1994
‘Turn a blind eye’, 2002. Norma Macdonald,
Perth WA [WU9835] Reproduced by courtesy of the artist.
‘I am glad that the Berndt Museum now has some of my paintings. I decided to give them to you because I feel that they will always be here for my grandchildren. Somewhere down the line in generations to come, they will know that they can come to a place like this and you’ll still have these works, so our history of our people is not lost and that is the reason why I have given them to you. ’
—Norma MacDonald, Nyungar/Yamatji artist 2000
‘Just to let you know what happened after our eventful trip in November 2000 when we visited to retrieve some photos and CDs made by Ronald and Catherine Berndt when they visited Goulburn Island-Oenpelli areas. What interest they created! The best part of all is the bilingual story told by Lazarus Lamilami and friend about the first arawirr or bamboo [didjeridu]. This story is ripe for turning into a picture book! You have a great educational resource. Hopefully we can access it again in the future and would recommend the Museum to other community schools, both in the bush and town.’
—Lindsay Parkhill, Goulburn Island educator 2002
‘Aboriginal art need not be allocated to the shelves of the past, nor lose its context when removed from its Indigenous and traditional setting. It can, and should, take its place alongside other great schools of art.’
—Ronald and Catherine Berndt 1950
Development and Alumni Relations
Development and Alumni Relations is managing the Berndt Museum Campaign. Further details are available from the Office of Development
Senior Development Officer – Cultural Projects
Ms Claire Lenyk has been appointed to oversee the Campaign. She is currently reviewing the Campaign Strategy and planning the next phase of the Project.
Ms Claire Lenyk
Telephone: (08) 6488 8906
(International) (+618) 6488 8906
Fax.: (08) 6488 1063
Mob.: 0409 295 126