/ / The BP exhibition Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation
The BP exhibition Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation

The BP exhibition Indigenous Australia: enduring civilisation

Discover the remarkable story of one of the world’s oldest continuing cultures in this major exhibition.

The show is being the first major exhibition in the UK to present a history of Indigenous Australia through objects, celebrating the cultural strength and resilience of both Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. This culture has continued for over 60,000 years in diverse environments which range from lush rainforest and arid landscapes to inland rivers, islands, seas and urban areas today. Hundreds of different Indigenous groups live across this vast continent, each with their own defined areas, languages and traditions. 

Once the bookings has been made, tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable.

The use of cameras, audio, audio visual or video equipment within the Exhibition is strictly prohibited

Drinks and food must not be taken into or consumed within the Exhibition

Smoking is not permitted in any area of the Premises

Mobile phones, pagers and watches should be silenced before entering the Exhibition 

Discover the remarkable story of one of the world’s oldest continuing cultures in this major exhibition.

The show is being the first major exhibition in the UK to present a history of Indigenous Australia through objects, celebrating the cultural strength and resilience of both Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islanders. This culture has continued for over 60,000 years in diverse environments which range from lush rainforest and arid landscapes to inland rivers, islands, seas and urban areas today. Hundreds of different Indigenous groups live across this vast continent, each with their own defined areas, languages and traditions.

Indigenous Australians developed sustainable ways of living from the land and sea using objects of great beauty and efficiency. From the deadly precision of a boomerang to bags and baskets for carrying water and food – essential for survival – these objects require supreme skill to design and make. In the exhibition, examples of practical objects such as spear-throwers (the ‘Swiss Army knife of the desert’) sit alongside magnificent works of art, such as Uta Uta Tjangala’s Yumari (1981) – a masterpiece now featured on the Australian passport. The oldest continuing art tradition in the world, Aboriginal art tells stories of the great ancestral beings who created the land and the people, and gave the law and lessons for living which still continue today. In contrast, the objects from the Torres Strait Islands reflect the centrality of the sea and its creatures to the Islanders’ beliefs and way of life, including spectacular turtle-shell masks used in ceremonies before the arrival of Christian missionaries. Together, the objects in the exhibition give an overview of Indigenous Australian culture throughout the continent, both remote and urban.

The exhibition features objects drawn from the British Museum’s unparalleled collection. Many of them were collected in the early colonial period (1770–1850), and have never been on public display before. There are important loans from Australian museums and specially commissioned artworks. Many Indigenous Australians have generously contributed to the exhibition, providing information, advice and permissions. 

These objects represent the cultural continuity and resilience of these cultures since a British colony was established in Australia in 1788. The exhibition allows you to explore the complex relationships Indigenous Australians have with the natural world and how they have responded to changing historical circumstances. It is a remarkable story of how an ancient civilisation has endured and whose story is still unfolding today. 

Image credit: Kunmanara Hogan, Tjaruwa Woods, Yarangka Thomas, Estelle Hogan, Ngalpingka Simms and Myrtle Pennington, Kungkarangkalpa (detail). Acrylic on canvas, 2013. © the artists, courtesy Spinifex Arts Project.

Supported by BP

Logistics partner IAG Cargo

Organised with the National Museum of Australia


British Museum - How to get there?

Address:

British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC1B 3DG

Nearest Tube Station:

Tottenham Court Road

Google Map

Booking Dates

Attraction Opened: 09-Jul-2015
Booking Until: 02-Aug-2015

Opening Times

Open daily 10.00–17.30, Friday until 20.30.
Last entry 90 minutes before closing 

Age Restrictions

Child classified as 16-18 years.

Under 16s go free, call to book

Pick Up Point

Please ensure you bring your voucher confirmation e-mail to the exhibition entrance to gain admittance.