Cultural items come home

THE Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery’s new major exhibition marks the return of many cultural object to the land of their origin for the first time since they were taken in the early days of colonisation.

‘taypani milaythina- tu: Return to Country’ features long-missing shell necklaces, kelp containers, twined baskets, tools, domestic objects, artworks, a reed canoe and other cultural objects that have been returned from museums around the world.

The exhibition also contains new contemporary artworks by 20 Tasmanian Aboriginal artists who developed works in response to the ancestral objects.

The project has been led by TMAG’s First Peoples Art and Culture team, who said historical cultural objects had been sought for extended loans from various institutions in the UK, US and France.

“The cultural material returned on loan for this exhibition is a small example of our globally dispersed cultural heritage, and there is much work still to be done,” First Peoples Art and Culture curator Julie Gough said.

“We hope that ‘taypani milaythina- tu’ contributes to the pathway of future unconditional permanent returns.”

Arts Minister Elise Archer officially opened the exhibition last month.

“The significant work that has gone into this exhibition over many years by the artists and the staff at TMAG, as well as the First People’s Art and Culture team, is extraordinary,” she said.

“Getting some insight into the overwhelming impact for Tasmanian Aboriginal people of having these objects returned from overseas or from interstate, and being able to see them for the first time, was incredibly moving.”

Tasmanian Community Fund (TCF) board member Michelle Swallow said the TCF was proud to support such an important project for the Tasmanian Aboriginal community.

“To be able to share some of Tasmania’s most unique cultural heritage through ‘taypani milaythina-tu’ is truly special,” she said.

“Improving the wellbeing of Tasmanians is something the TCF strives to achieve, and this project by TMAG and the Tasmanian Aboriginal community showcases the resilience and deep history of one of the oldest continuing cultures in the world.”

‘taypani milaythina-tu: Return to Country’ is open until 12 February 2023. Entry is free.

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