Collecting History—16 June 2017

An ARC-funded research project investigating the history of collecting in Western Australia is turning up surprising finds around Australia and the world.

When historian Dr Tiffany Shellam and her team opened a drawer at London’s Natural History Museum earlier this year, the last thing they expected to see was a collection of Western Australian objects from the 1800s, complete with original, handwritten labels.

For Dr Shellam—whose work focuses on early explorers in Western Australia and their collections, the discovery at London’s Natural History Museum of the soil samples and rocks and indigenous artefacts collected by a lieutenant in the British Royal Navy, Phillip Parker King, was an exciting find.

This find was significant for the ARC Linkage Project—Collecting the West—which is a unique collaboration between The University of Western Australia (UWA) and Deakin University, in partnership with Western Australia's key collecting institutions the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the State Library of Western Australia and the Western Australian Museum, as well as the British Museum, where some of the state's collections are held. The project is being led by Professor Alistair Paterson (UWA) and Andrea Witcomb (Deakin University).

Collecting the West will host exhibitions in Perth over the next four years at the State Library of Western Australia, the Western Australian Museum and Art Gallery WA drawing on the project’s research, including a major exhibition on Western Australia’s 20th century art and exhibitions leading up to the opening of the new Western Australian Museum in 2020.

Media issued by Deakin University.

Image: Dr Tiffany Shellam and Professor Andrea Witcomb with Western Australian rock samples found in the British Natural History Museum.
Image credit: Deakin Media Team.

Original Published Date: 
Friday, June 16, 2017