British Museum to showcase indigenous Australia


The British Museum will be showcasing some artefacts from indigenous Australian and giving the UK a taste of the nation’s diversity amid its turbulent history.

Included in the “immensely important” exhibition will be a shield collected after a battle at Botany Bay in 1770, believed to have been picked up by Captain James Cook or one of his crew. The artefact has a small hole that many claim was made by a spear.

Gaye Sculthorpe, the British Museum’s curator for Oceania and Australia, thinks the bark shield is marvellous and previously described it as a “truly remarkable, significant, important object” back in 2013 when she was planning the display.

According to the curator, objects in the exhibition that date back to the early days of Sydney are of particular importance as very few are left due to a fire that ravaged the Australian Museum in 1882, destroying a significant amount of the artefacts.


The British Museum will also be displaying the Yumari, a masterpiece that is now featured on the watermark of Australian passports, alongside a protect placard from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy established in 1972.

Visitors will also be able to see contemporary paintings and specially-commissioned artworks from leading indigenous artists while they peruse the exhibition.

Over six million visitors cross the museum’s threshold every year, which means these artefacts will be presented to a wide audience made up of many different demographics.

In a statement, the British Museum said: “The collection contains some of the earliest objects collected from Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders through early naval voyages, colonists, and missionaries dating as far back as 1770.

“Many were collected at a time before museums were established in Australia and they represent tangible evidence of some of the earliest moments of contact between Aboriginal people, Torres Strait Islanders and the British.”

‘Indigenous Australia: Enduring Civilisation’ will be displayed at the museum from April 23rd. If you’re making your way to London especially for the exhibition why not stay the night and book into one of our Shaftesbury Hotels?