Please join us for our July Cultural Heritage Seminar where Andrea Witcomb will talk about ‘Collecting the West’
‘Collecting the West’ is an Australian Research Council funded research project that looks at what’s been collected from Western Australia with a particular focus on collecting practices. This focus enables exploration of the role of collections in identity formation, place making and the production of knowledge. The project’s time span, which reaches as far back as the 1600s and as recently as the present, also locates these collecting practices with the contexts of imperialism, colonialism and the development of State based identities as well as across disciplinary divides. The project is a collaboration between academics and the state’s leading collecting institutions – the Western Australian Museum, the State Library of Western Australia and the Art Gallery of Western Australia, together with an international partner the British Museum – to create a new vision for collecting and display.
In this paper, Andrea Witcomb will talk about the discovery of five photographs in 2018 in the State Library of Western Australia which led to the discovery of a forgotten private museum housing the collection of Captain Matthew McVicker-Smyth in early 20th century Perth. Captain Smyth was responsible for the selling of Nobel explosives used by agriculture and the mining industry. The museum contained mineral specimens in cases alongside extensive, aesthetically organised displays of Australian Aboriginal artifacts, amidst a wide variety of ornaments and decorative paintings. The museum reflects a moment in the history of colonialism that reminds us today of forms of dispossession, of how Aboriginal people were categorised in Australia by Western worldviews, and the ways that collectors operated. The research brings back into existence a significant Western Australian museum and opens up a new discussion of how such private collections came into existence and what their legacy might be today.
Professor Andrea Witcomb
Wednesday 25 July 2018
Date: Wednesday 25 July, 2018
Time: 5.30pm – 6.30pm (please note later start time)
Venue: Deakin Downtown, 727 Collins St, Tower 2, Level 12
Free of charge, all welcome. Bookings not required.