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Wanjina Wunggurr materials return to the Kimberley

Wanjina Wunggurr rock art and archival materials return to the Kimberley from German collections after more than 80 years.

Top: Installation view at Wilinggin Shed. Bottom Left: Kim Doohan, Janet Oobagooma, Christina Henneke & Richard Kuba (LtR) discussing the archival material. Bottom Right: Installation view at Wilinggin Shed with portraits in front and prints of rock art copies depicting Modum gallery in the back. (Photos Martin Porr)

Historical ethnographic collections continue to be increasingly important for Aboriginal communities today. The processes of repatriation and efforts to make materials in overseas institutions accessible to Aboriginal Traditional Owners can be a long and challenging process. These aspects are the focus of a current project that is jointly coordinated by researchers from the University of Western Australia and the Frobenius Institute (Frankfurt am Main, Germany).

Left: Set up of large-scale prints at Wilinggin Shed. Right: Martin Porr and Richard Kuba presenting the research project to representatives of the Wanjina Wunggurr PBC and the Kimberley Land Council (KLC) boards. (Photos: Christina Henneke)

Over two weeks in July, archival materials – prints of paintings and digital documents – from the German ethnographic expeditions to the Kimberley, Northwest Australia (1938-39, 1954-55), were presented by and to Wilinggin Aboriginal Cooperation. Project members (Kim Doohan, Christina Henneke, Richard Kuba and Martin Porr) were in Derby (Western Australia) and engaged with Traditional Owners of the Wanjina Wunggurr Community to review materials and discuss future cultural protocols for shared curation and the preservation of cultural materials.

Top Left: Kane Nenowat and Christina Henneke (LtR) working with the archive database. Top Right: Richard Kuba and Kane Nenowat (LtR) hanging a large-scale print of a rock art copy depicting Modum gallery. Bottom Left: Richard Kuba, Christina Henneke, Donny Woolagoodja and Joh Bornman (LtR) discussing the presentation of archive prints. Bottom Right: Christina Henneke, Leah Umbagai & Kirsty Burgu (LtR) discussing the archive database. (Photos Kim Doohan).

To better appreciate the character of the materials that were created by the German researchers more than 80 years ago, a temporary display at the facilities of Wilinggin Aboriginal Corporation was set up, which was visited by many members of the local community over several days.

Sam Lovell and Christina Henneke working with the archive database. (Martin Porr)

For more information on this project, contact Martin Porr at

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