• Offered by School of Archaeology and Anthropology
  • ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
  • Classification Advanced
  • Course subject Museum and Collection
  • Areas of interest Anthropology, Art History, Museums and Collections, Digital Humanities, Heritage Studies

This course focuses on theoretical and practical issues relating to indigenous collections and exhibitions, drawing its interdisciplinary approach and methodology from the fields of anthropology and cultural studies as well as museum studies. This allows students to develop a critical understanding of the creation, function, histories, politics and contemporary meanings of objects; the representation of cultures in museum displays and other public venues; shifting relations between source communities and museum; problems of landscape, place, and space; art and aesthetics; visual anthropology; and issues of representation, including photographic representation.

The specific emphasis is on collections and exhibitions relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples that are held or displayed in Australia or overseas, but specific attention is also given to other ethnographic and historical collections and displays. Issues examined during the course include the history of collecting and exhibitions, community representation, ownership and intellectual property, repatriation, negotiation, preservation, and modes of display.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Course aims:

On completing this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

1. Interpret institutional, agency and government policies and frameworks pertaining to Indigenous collections and consultation with Indigenous and other communities, and to engage in ethical and sensitive processes appropriate to the diversity of constituents and communities;

2. Conceptualise the main issues pertaining to repatriation and the preservation,ownership and intellectual property of traditional knowledge;

3. Evaluate the representation of Indigenous individuals and communities in museums and other exhibition contexts;

4. Conduct primary research into Indigenous collections including effective written and verbal communication; and

5. Model best practice and a commitment to ethical, reflective practice in crosscultural museum contexts.

Learning Outcomes:

1. To gain skills in written and verbal expression for a variety of relevant professional and academic purposes.

2. To develop skills in interdisciplinary cross-cultural thinking and the ability to apply theoretical ideas to case studies developed from personal observation.

3. To gain skills required for collections-based work. This includes data-collection, analysis, and verbal and written presentation at the standard of a postgraduate degree.

4. To gain skills required to model best practice and a demonstrate commitment to ethical, reflective practice in crosscultural museum contexts.

Indicative Assessment

Collections project comprising presentation and documentation equivalent to 2,500 words (65%) and 2,500 word essay (35%).

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1.5 contact hours per week during semester; 19.5 hours total during one week of mid-semester break.

Preliminary Reading

Kreps, Christina F. (2003), Liberating Culture: Cross-Cultural Perspectives on Museums, Curation and Heritage Preservation, London and New York: Routledge.



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $3216
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4590
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Spring Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9727 31 Oct 2018 09 Nov 2018 09 Nov 2018 09 Dec 2018 In Person N/A

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