PNG Museum receives cultural objects from Australia

The National Museum & Art Gallery received 225 cultural objects that have been returned to Papua New Guinea from the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra.

Museum Director, Dr. Andrew Moutu said “we are delighted to receive some very stunning and powerful pieces of ethnographic objects that have been returned to us with remarkable care and respect. We expressed our gratitude to the National Gallery of Australia and its curatorial team”.

As part of the Pacific Arts Collection in the National Gallery of Australia, the collection began some 52 years ago in 1968 with an intention to present stories through the cultural art forms of Australia’s closest neighbor in the Pacific. Papua New Guinea has a very high representation amongst its collections reflecting the relations and historical ties between the two countries.

The return of the 225 objects evolved out of ongoing processes of deaccessioning within the National Gallery of Australia. Majority of the cultural items are tools; utensils, masks and sculptures in the mid-20th century. They come from various provinces including some parts of New Ireland, East and West New Britain, Gulf, Milne Bay and East Sepik.

The process of deaccessioning is staged over 2 years and discussions between our two institutions demonstrate our commitment that these objects should be placed in the care of the National Museum & Art Gallery in PNG.

“There is also a long standing positive relationship between the National Museum & Art Gallery of Papua New Guinea and the National Gallery of Australia which was reaffirmed by a twinning partnership in 2014 and this repatriation is part of the spirit of reciprocating objects, skills and competencies and other kinds of support between our institutions”, said Dr. Moutu.

“The National Museum & Art Gallery has remained open during these times of the pandemic and visitors are welcome to visit the galleries during the week days. The staff of the National Museum & Art Gallery have also been at work and are ensuring that the 225 objects that have been repatriated are incorporated into our database of the national ethnographic register”, said Dr. Moutu