A truth-telling exhibition which challenges South Australia’s history books has won the Australian museum sector’s most prestigious award in the Museums and Galleries National Awards for 2020.
Tiati Wangkanthi Kumangka (Truth-Telling Together) is a permanent exhibition at Glenelg’s Bay Discovery Centre, which was curated by the City of Holdfast Bay together with the Kaurna Nation. It was named national overall winner and also won the Indigenous Project or Keeping Place category.
“It is a big thing for us as Kaurna Aboriginal people,” said Kaurna Elder Jeffrey Newchurch, who’s also chairperson of the Kaurna Yerta Aboriginal Corporation.
“To be recognised for working in conjunction with the team from Holdfast Bay and the trust and the honesty we had together was important because for us as Kaurna, and as Aboriginal people, just getting on the table to have a position was seen as a risk.
“But we didn’t see that – we had an opportunity to achieve those outcomes together and it’s quite exciting.”
The permanent exhibition, which opened in December 2019, tells the true history of South Australia, opening an honest discussion about South Australia’s colonial past.
It examines the words of the Letters Patent, which include recognition of “Aboriginal Natives” to occupy and live within the lands of the Province of South Australia.
For Jack Buckskin, the exhibition is a “great way for Aboriginal people, especially Kaurna people, to have our voices heard”.
“Very early on our people had lost their voice, lost the opportunity to share our knowledge, and our culture, so this exhibition is about understanding the history of this country from an Aboriginal perspective,” Mr Buckskin said.
And it’s this “chequered history”, according to Kaurna Elder Lynette Crocker, that the next generation needs to hear.
“This is the beginning of a long story and a good story for a lot of people on both sides,” Ms Crocker said.
“It’s about walking together, working together and talking together – and having an understanding because there are good things in both cultures that need to be understood.”
Curator Julia Garnaut said the Tiati exhibition had been her “greatest privilege”.
“To help navigate this history and conversation with Kaurna, particularly Senior Kaurna Elder Lynette Crocker, has been a mutually rewarding experience. Lynette has carried this history in her head for decades,” Ms Garnaut said.
“It has been her determination to have the Kaurna voice and the story of South Australia’s Letters Patent heard that brings us here today.”
City of Holdfast Bay Mayor Amanda Wilson said she was proud of the effort and collaboration between council and representatives from the Kaurna Nation to bring this exhibition to life – and to receive such a significant accolade.
“This exhibition encourages all sides to forge ahead in a reconciled and peaceful way,” Mayor Wilson said.
“I’d like to thank the Kaurna Nation, especially Lynette Crocker, Merle Simpson and Jeffrey Newchurch, for letting us be part of this exhibition, entrusting us with their ideas, their voice and their truths”.
Previous MAGNA award winners include the Melbourne’s ACMI (The Australian Centre for the Moving Image, at Federation Square) and the Museum of the Riverina (both 2019 winners), the National Museum of Australia (2018) and The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (2017).
The judges who awarded Tiati the overall national award for 2020 were full of praise for the exhibition, saying “The story it tells in such an open and honest way. It has a lesson for us all in how we can use the Indigenous Road Map.”
Tiati Wangkanthi Kumangka (Truth-Telling Together) is open to the public at Glenelg’s Bay Discovery Centre, Moseley Square, Glenelg.
Open 10am to 2pm daily. Gold coin donation.