Art and Object

The Art and Object collection reflects the diversity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural expression.

This collection has a strong connection with the work of the Institute since the early 1960s with particular strengths in late 20th-century and contemporary materials.

A wide variety of media are represented including acrylic, ochre and bark paintings, works on paper, weavings, woodcarvings, shell works and glass sculptures.

The Art and Object collection currently includes over 3000 items and continues to grow through donations and purchases.

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Significance statement - The Rom Ceremony Collection

Among the Anbarra and related groups across central Arnhem Land, the Rom ceremony is performed to cement goodwill between peoples as a form of diplomacy symbolised by the exchange of gifts.

The Rom ceremonial objects in AIATSIS’s collection were made for public rituals that affirm the strong and long established relationship between the Anbarra people of Arnhem Land and the Institute, dating back to the establishment of the Institute.

The objects are emblematic of the role played by AIATSIS in its active engagement with Indigenous society at large, and the Anbarra people in particular; and as a repository of Indigenous knowledge and objects that are made accessible to Indigenous communities and researchers. Consequently, the Rom ceremonial objects are of the highest social significance loaded with symbolism; they possess exceptional artistic and aesthetic attributes; and they were made for historically significant occasions.

Furthermore, their significance is enhanced when considered in combination with the wealth of related materials arising from AIATSIS sponsored research into Anbarra society and culture.

Wally Caruana
4 August 2014

Read the Whole AIATSIS Collection Statement of Significance by Significance International.

Last reviewed: 19 Nov 2018