MAAS has an ongoing commitment to platforming Indigenous cultural perspectives across all areas of its public programs.
If you visit the Powerhouse Museum on 26 January this year you will experience a range of opportunities to deepen your understanding of the histories of some of Australia’s First Peoples – all are connected to our collection and our exhibitions. Join a daily Volunteer Tour, 10.30am or 1.30pm, or explore the museum yourself and discover objects on display.
As you enter our Love is…Australian Wedding Fashion exhibition, celebrating 200 years of wedding fashions in Australia, you will hear Matthew Doyle’s recording of a traditional Cadigal song, used for millennia as part of the bonding ceremonies held on this country, as you gaze on the purple taffeta wedding garment worn by the mysterious Aboriginal woman, Mrs Janet McDonald. As you move through the exhibition you will also see an iconic wedding dress based on the clips from the documentary Dancing with the Prime Minister from the 1968 Aboriginal Debutante’s Ball held in Sydney Town Hall and attended by the then Prime Minister John Gorton (full screenings of the documentary take place daily at 10.30am and 1.30pm in the Kings Cinema on Level 2 of the Powerhouse).
In the museum’s ICONS exhibition there is a collection of breastplates given to Aboriginal people in the 19th century, three beautiful ceramic works of Thancoupie, a decorated woomera by Uncle Albert Namatjira, shellwork Sydney Harbour Bridges by the women of the La Perouse community and the iconic Mervyn Bishop photograph of Gough Whitlam and Vincent Lingiari. The exhibition also includes the throne from which Governor Macquarie issued his orders to wage war on Australia’s Indigenous peoples.
Three outstanding pieces from the MAAS collection are installed beside the Level 3 foyer to commemorate the 1968 Referendum where 99% of the Australian population voted for the inclusion of Aboriginal people in the reckoning of the nation’s population.
Take a stroll down the ramp, from Level 3 to Level 2, and you have the opportunity to view three fish-traps woven by Red Ochre Award recipient Yvonne Koolmatrie and textiles printed by the artists of the Merrepen Art Centre.
This is a Voice exhibition features a Welcome space with sound installation created by Gadigal Woman, Lille Madden, singing in the language of the people of the Eora Nation, large scale paintings embodying the narrative of songlines and a music video by Indigenous performance artist Christian Thompson.
Finish off your visit with a stop at the Powerhouse Café where you can see over 22 artworks created by young people from schools across Western Sydney for the NSW Education Department’s Koorie Art Expressions Project.
You can see a beautiful installation to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Mabo Decision with two of Uncle Eddie Koki Mabo’s favourite shirts including one made for him by his dedicated wife and the mother of his ten children – Bonita.