Facts and Figures
When?The Museum was established in 1976 to house the collections then held in the Department of Anthropology. Initially known as the Anthropology Research Museum, it was renamed the Berndt Museum of Anthropology in 1992 in honour of the contribution made by Ronald M. and Catherine H. Berndt to both Australian and international anthropology.
Why?Anthropology or ethnographic museums are common elsewhere in the world, especially North America and Europe, but in Australia this is the only 'stand-alone' anthropology museum that is not part of a teaching department. It houses collections by anthropologists of cultural materials, photographs, sound recordings and the like.
Breakdown of collections
What?The Museum holds extensive collections of Australian Aboriginal art and cultural materials, as well as collections from Melanesia, Asia and South-East Asia. The Museum is internationally known for the excellence of its Australian collections, chiefly from Arnhem Land (N.T.), the Kimberley, Western Desert and South-West regions of Western Australia, and for the high quality and detail of accompanying documentation. The photographic collection is extensively utilised by Aboriginal families and communities, as well as by scholars and individual researchers.
How?The Museum commissions and purchases contemporary art and artefacts in the course of social anthropological fieldwork. The Museum's acquisition policy focuses on contemporary Aboriginal art from the western half of the continent, particularly Western Australia, but also includes materials relevant to other areas of the collection.
Australian Aboriginal works by type
How Many?The Museum holds approximately 12,000 objects, including artworks; some 35,000 photographs both historic and contemporary; hundreds of sound and video recordings; a reference library comprising some 4,000 volumes; and an extensive archive relating to the history of the Museum, its collections and its collectors.
The Museum is administered as a Centre within the Cultural Precinct and the Director reports to the Precinct Director, Professor Ted Snell. The University Cultural Collections Board advises the Director, Cultural Precinct.