The South Australian Museum holds one of the most important collections of Aboriginal material culture in the world. The legacy of these collections carries great potential, but also great responsibilities. The 30,000 individual items include irreplaceable artefacts, artworks and ceremonial materials of great significance to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Significantly, the Museum is the custodian of two archive collections which have been inscribed onto the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World register.
The Museum is committed to reconciliation through working closely with Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to clarify our responsibilities in caring for these objects, and for presenting and representing them in collaborative and culturally appropriate ways. The Museum is committed to providing easy and appropriate access to the collection for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and giving communities the confidence that their culture is valued and preserved in partnership.
Providing Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and communities with access to the collection provides an opportunity for those who are seeking to confirm identity as part of the stolen generation, for cultural and language revival or for use in Native Title claims. The Norman Barnett Tindale and Board for Anthropological Research collections contain photographs, anthropological and sociological data, manuscripts, maps, film, sound recordings and artworks that document approximately 5,500 Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their relationship to country.
The Museum holds more ancestral remains than any other Museum in Australia. We recognise that ancestral remains being away from country is an ongoing source of pain for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families around Australia, and we are committed to rectifying this wherever possible. The Museum has created a dedicated, full-time repatriation position to ensure we work closely with all communities to prepare the way for the repatriation of ancestors over the years ahead.
The Museum recognises that a key part of reconciliation is acknowledging and addressing the inequalities faced by many Australian Aboriginal and and Torres Strait Islander people, including in areas such as wellbeing, education and employment.
The Museum is committed to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander employment, cadetships and career development. The Museum employs a number of Aboriginal staff members across our archive, collection management and research areas. We continue to support the development of Australian Aboriginal cadets and early-career researchers to work directly with the Australian Aboriginal Material Culture Collection.