The John Curtin Gallery has appointed Yindjibarndi woman Michelle Broun as the Curator, Australian First Nations Art. This is the first dedicated full-time Australian First Nations Curator appointed to an Australian University Art Museum.
In her new role, Michelle will guide and advise on the Gallery’s extensive Australian First Nations art and cultural materials collection and lead the curation of this collection.
Initially her focus will be on the unique collection of Stolen Generation artworks – The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artworks – created by Aboriginal children at the Carrolup Native Settlement in the 1940s. Michelle will be responsible for the research, development, management, interpretation and presentation of the Carrolup Collection. She will interrogate themes these works present, including human rights, truth-telling, healing and reconciliation.
In November 2020 Curtin launched a major campaign for the new Carrolup Centre for Truth-Telling as part of a broader reconciliation initiative the University is embarking upon in partnership with BHP. This centre will provide a permanent home for The Herbert Mayer Collection of Carrolup Artworks when it opens in 2023. It will honour Western Australia’s Stolen Generations by creating a place to engage the wider community in truth-telling, healing and reconciliation. Michelle’s appointment is integral to the progress of this initiative and she brings a wealth of personal and professional experience to the role.
Michelle’s appointment is a significant step forward in fulfilling Curtin’s vision to deliver meaningful educational, research and community engagement benefits and outcomes that will make a substantial contribution to the healing of Stolen Generations survivors and their families, and to strengthen the identity of Western Australia.
John Curtin Gallery Director Chris Malcolm said he was thrilled that a person of Michelle’s calibre outstanding experience and knowledge has accepted this newly-created position and will be a great asset to Gallery going forward.
“The Carrolup Centre is all about bringing people together in the spirit of Truth-telling. Michelle’s outstanding work over many years, is the perfect foundation from which to work collaboratively with community members, researchers, contemporary artists and stakeholders to develop projects that interrogate issues raised by the Carrolup Collection,” Mr Malcolm said.
Ms Broun has over 25 years’ experience working on Indigenous and community cultural development projects and creative production, as well as planning, project management, partnerships, programs and policy. She worked independently as an artist and curator, for local and State governments and the Not- for Profit sector and at local, regional, national and international levels. Most recently, she was lead curator of the Ngalang Koort Boodja Wirn exhibition at the Western Australian Museum Boola Bardip.