Australian Government funding for the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection exhibition

Office for the Arts, Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Communications
Describe the main features of the policy/measure: 

The Australian Government provided direct investment in the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection exhibition project which facilitates the flow of cultural goods and services. The project focusses on the curation and exhibition of Madayin: Eight Decades of Aboriginal Australian Bark Painting from Yirrkala, which will tour the United States of America.

Initial funding was provided to undertake curatorial research and develop a bilingual catalogue (Yolŋu-matha/English) for the exhibition. Further investment was undertaken by the Australian Government following the disruption caused by COVID-19. The funding provided will support the design and development of a website that showcases the Madayin exhibition. The website will provide another platform to promote Indigenous Australian art to new and expanding international audiences and markets. It will further foster cultural understanding through short videos of selected artists talking about their work, and audio files providing pronunciation of key terms. The photography and videos of Yolŋu artists, art works and landscapes associated with the 13 clans represented in the exhibition will provide a window into Yolŋu life and culture that extends beyond the exhibition and catalogue.

What are the results achieved so far through the implementation of the policy/measure?: 

While curatorial travel between Yirrkala, Australia and Virginia, United States was not possible due to the COVID pandemic, the curators of Madayin successfully pivoted to online meetings via Zoom. A regular schedule of weekly meetings was established to connect key project members in Yirrkala, Melbourne, Charlottesville, Virginia and Hanover, New Hampshire.

Using virtual modelling software, the Yolŋu curators and consultants were able to direct the exhibition design for the Hood Museum of the Art in real time, while simultaneously consulting with relevant knowledge holders in the community. This process was highly successful, and integrated Yolŋu curators into the curation and exhibition design in far deeper ways than was initially imagined. Yolŋu curators have gained familiarity with exhibition design processes and virtual modelling, while building relationships with American museum curators. This process has also allowed artists and staff members from Buku-Larrŋgay and The Mulka Project to participate in decision-making processes and advise on key aspects of the exhibition, from the placement of artworks to the wall colours in the galleries. This was particularly important to the curatorial team as it allowed older artists such as Nyapanyapa Yunupiŋu to see the exhibition under development and offer curatorial advice and guidance. In addition, the lead Yolŋu curator has been working virtually with members of the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection education department to develop educational materials to accompany the exhibition. Working on Zoom has greatly increased the Yolŋu project member’s familiarity with video-conferencing with the flow-on result of creating new opportunities for remote artists and knowledge holders to present their work in an international context. The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection has since facilitated several web-based programs with remote Indigenous artists both in the classroom and as part of the museum’s public programming.

Work on the bi-lingual exhibition catalogue has been greatly accelerated by the funds provided by the Australian Government. These funds have allowed for the employment of two dedicated Yolŋu translators. The translation of texts will be used for the catalogue, website and exhibition, ensuring that Yolŋu voices are prominent in every aspect of the exhibition.

Financial resources allocated to the policy/measure in USD: 
US$85,900 (A$110,000)
Partner(s) engaged in the implementation of the measure: 
Name of partnerType of entity
Buku Larrnggay Mulka Incorporated
Civil Society Organization (CSO)
Hood Museum of Art
Private Sector
Private Sector
Jefferson Trust
Civil Society Organization (CSO)
University of Virginia
Public Sector
Has the implementation of the policy/measure been evaluated?: