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Bringing past collections back to Milingimbi

Yolngu leaders and art workers on the remote island of Milingimbi in North East Arnhem Land are working together to repatriate images of culturally significant artworks, ceremonial objects and photographs.

Steeped in active cultural practice, artworks from this region include barks, ceremonial poles, carvings and weavings. These important works are dispersed throughout Australia and internationally, with many integral to significant collections held by individuals, and galleries and institutions, including National Museum of Australia (NMA). Milingimbi Art and Culture is working with Elders to gather and record accurate historical data about these items before the knowledge is lost forever.

Support from the TFFF will enable Milingimbi Art and Culture to employ a dedicated collections coordinator, senior artworkers, a linguist, and preservation and significance assessment consultants. This support will also enable the creation of a new digital database and photographic interface to showcase the collection.

This community-led work supports the community’s vision of Djalkiri, which means ‘walking in the footsteps of our ancestors’. It is vital to keeping Yolngu traditions and cultural heritage alive.

Helen Ganalmirriwuy (left) shows her Miku Mat, with her sister Helen Milminydjarrk. Photo courtesy Milingimbi Art & Culture