Enhancing First Nations involvement with Rockhampton Museum of Art

Published on 19 February 2021


As the countdown continues to the opening of Rockhampton Museum of Art in late 2021, a new project has been launched which is aimed at amplifying First Nations voices at the new Museum of Art through a range of employment, access and engagement opportunities.

The initiative, titled Reimagining Representation, has been made possible by a grant from the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.

The funding supports involvement of First Nations people in a range of activities undertaken by and at Rockhampton Museum of Art through the appointment of a First Nations Arts Officer, First Nations Arts Assistants, First Nations educators, and a First Nations reference group.

The positions will contribute to the conception, development, implementation and delivery of an inspiring program of First Nations engagement and learning opportunities at the Museum of Art.

The project, which involves three phases over a 24-month period, came about through a desire to enhance First Nations programming and representation at the Museum of Art, and advance Rockhampton Museum of Art along the pathway of deep and extended First Nations engagement. It was developed from the findings and recommendation of Australian Museum and Galleries Association’s (AMAGA) report First Peoples: Indigenous Roadmap 2018 in consultation with the Darumbal people.

Rockhampton Regional Council Communities Spokesperson Cr Drew Wickerson said that as a cultural institution operating on Darumbal Country and as the regional services centre to the community of Woorabinda, it is imperative that staff programming and operating the Museum of Art are culturally aware, informed and represent the wider community we serve.

“The project will enable First Nations voice to represent Australian history, acknowledge First Nations knowledge, with the desire to increase First Nations audiences,” he said.

“The project aligns to the aims of Rockhampton Museum of Art, to be a place of community and gathering, a place where connections are forged, skills acquired, a love of art nurtured and history celebrated,” he said.

“Though this initiative the Museum of Art will engage actively with the regional community and its visitors, inspiring and enriching their lives through programs that encourage participation in and appreciation of the visual arts,” Cr Wickerson said.

Tim Fairfax AC said: “The Tim Fairfax Family Foundation is pleased to support Rockhampton Museum of Art in its commitment to promoting greater visibility, respect, and celebration of First Nations voices.”

The position of First Nations Programs Officer was advertised in 2020 with a large volume of interest locally, nationally and internationally. Dr Melinda Mann has been appointed to the position, commencing in late February. Public calls for First Nations Arts Assistants are open, closing on the 1 March. Call outs of educators and advisory committee members will be released from March 2021.

Rockhampton Museum of Art is funded by the Australian Government through the Building Better Regions Fund; the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland and through the Building Our Regions program; and Rockhampton Regional Council.