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  1. Unsettled at the Australian Museum
    Photograph: Supplied/Anna Kucera
  2. Artwork depicting First Nations pioneer Fanny Balbuk on the $50 note
    Photograph: Unsettled ©AbramPowell, Australian Museum | Detail of Blood Money, 2011, Ryan Presley
  3. A presentation at the Australian Museum on First Nations history
    Photograph: Ken Leanfore ©Australian Museum
  4. A presentation at the Australian Museum on First Nations history
    Photograph: Anna Kucera ©Australian Museum

Time Out says

In this powerful exhibition, First Nations voices reveal the hidden stories of devastation and survival

The Australian Museum celebrates First Nations culture in the astounding new show Unsettled, which is hanging around for an extended season until January 27. Looking back on this country's untold history, the free exhibition reiterates that this land was never ceded. It interrogates the lasting impacts of colonisation and the denial of Indigenous sovereignty.

Contemporary First Nations artists including Charlotte Allingham (Coffin Birth), Ryan Presley, Tony Albert, Jai Darby Walker and Danie Mellor reveal the hidden stories of devastation, survival, resilience and the fight for recognition. Their first-hand accounts are presented through long-hidden historical documents, large-scale artworks, immersive experiences and never-before-seen objects from the Australian Museum collections and beyond. Elders including Uncle Waubin Richard Aken (Kaurareg), Aunty Fay Moseley (Wiradjuri) and Uncle Noel Butler (Budawang) share their lived experiences, and the exhibition presents almost 200 artefacts and significant cultural objects, including new digital works.

Among the historical documents on show is a copy of sealed secret orders instructing Captain Cook to find the fabled Great Southern Continent on what was meant to be an expedition to observe the Transit of Venus in Tahiti in 1769. Cook failed to follow his instructions to gain the consent of the First Nations peoples when making his claim of possession, under the pretence that the continent was uninhabited. And Ryan Presley explores the extent to which Australia’s wealth has been built on a history of exploitation and violence in the ‘Blood Money’ series.

The show is bolstered by tours, talks, films, workshops and so much more that dig deeper into the exhibition’s main themes. Unsettled Exhibition Tours are run by knowledgeable First Nations guides on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays throughout the day, and on Thursday evenings. On selected days there are opportunities to learn weaving and string-making techniques and their cultural significance in a unique, hands-on workshop, Healing Through Weaving. There is also an authentic and heartfelt introduction to First Nations culture with Winhangadurinya: Aboriginal Meditation. Check out the full Unsettled Program here.

Understanding our shared past is an important step towards healing for a stronger, shared future together, with Unsettled an important contribution to the ongoing dialogue.

Want more? Check out the best exhibitions in Sydney this month.  

Written by
Stephen A Russell


Opening hours:
Daily 10am-5pm
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