New Aboriginal curator for South Australian Museum thanks to generous benefactor

05 September 2016

British_Council_ACCELERATE_Photo by Mark_Gambino c British Council.jpg

Photo by Mark Gambino, copyright British Council

The South Australian Museum is set to open its doors to a fresh face – one that will help to define the exciting new trajectory of a world-leading scientific and cultural research institution.

Through the private funding of passionate philanthropist Dr Marg Davy, AM, the South Australian Museum is proud to announce the appointment of Mr Glenn Iseger-Pilkington to the newly established role of The William and Margaret Geary Curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art and Material Culture.

Professor of Anthropology John Carty sees this as an exceptional gift – the first endowed curatorial position created at the Museum – one that will see the South Australian Museum able to fulfil its mission to tell the still unfolding story of the most resilient, creative and enduring peoples our world has known.

The extraordinary Australian Aboriginal Cultures Gallery in the South Australian Museum celebrates the world’s oldest continuous living cultures. The collection – the largest and most representative of its kind in the world – comprises the building blocks of Australian art history: the Yuendemu doors, Lake Eyre toas, early Papunya paintings and important pieces by Albert Namatjira to name just a few.

“The evolution of Aboriginal art is the great artistic narrative that the Museum is able to share with the world”, Professor Carty said.

“Traditionally we have looked at Aboriginal culture through the rear view mirror.

“Now, by working in partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities across Australia, Glenn will secure the relevance and dynamism of the Australian Aboriginal Culture Collection – and in turn the Museum as a whole – bringing our collections to life, showing how they reinforce the stories of the present.

“Glenn is a significant part of the South Australian Museum’s revitalisation. He is one of the best young Aboriginal curators in the country. We are opening the doors for the next generation of leaders in Aboriginal culture and Australian history.”

In honour of her late husband William Geary, Dr Davy, AM, is proud to establish the new curatorial role, helping to signal deeper transformation and generational change at the Museum, where Aboriginal empowerment and authority is now at the forefront.

Through engagement and partnership with Aboriginal custodians and communities, the South Australian Museum is looking forward to presenting richer stories from its collection, inspiring wonder and curiosity in people around the world. For Mr Iseger-Pilkington, it’s about talking

honestly and confidently about our country’s difficult stories, sharing the Museum’s treasures in a way that has never been seen before.

His new role at the South Australian Museum is the culmination of a very personal journey. His identity as a Wadjarri, Nhanda and Nyoongar man led him to work with Aboriginal art and objects, but it was his training as an artist that lent him an overwhelming sense of cultural responsibility.

“The Museum holds the largest and most comprehensive collection of Australian Aboriginal ethnographic material in the world. Together, we are committed to sharing these collections with Aboriginal communities, and interpreting them for a broader audience”, Mr Iseger-Pilkington said.

“For me, being at the South Australian Museum is about telling the story the way it should be told – with both the past, present and future in hand.”