Return to Country: Repatriation and Resilience

The Wheeler Centre

Event Date: 
31 May 2022
Author / Presenters: 
John Harvey, Kimberley Moulton, and Jason Tamiru

Repatriation is an issue at the heart of many cultural institutions, as museums and galleries reckon with the violent colonial histories that underpin significant portions of their collections. Once sought and traded as aesthetic trophies and scientific evidence, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects and ancestral remains, housed and hidden in institutions across the world are thought to number in the many thousands.

Malthouse Theatre’s production of The Return, premiering as part of RISING, engages with the importance of returning these items and remains back to Country. This epic theatre experience spans 250 years and explores the untold perspectives of these macabre true histories and the false justifications behind them.

At this panel discussion, we’ll hear from The Return’s writer John Harvey and co-director Jason Tamiru, along with senior curator Kimberley Moulton. They’ll consider the play’s themes, alongside Moulton’s insights into alternative models of collection and display that prioritise community access and situate these cultural belongings within a continuous flow of history. At the intersection of creative exploration and institutional knowledge, they’ll discuss how the repatriation of Ancestors can bring us closer to truth-telling and First Peoples agency in museums.

Please note John Harvey will appear via video feed.

Presented in partnership with RISING and Malthouse Theatre.