Last days to connect with First Nations exhibition

22 April 2022

Experience the language, stories, and spiritual connections of First Nations voyagers at the Museum of Tropical Queensland exhibition Connections across the Coral Sea: A story of movement before it closes on Monday 2 May.  


Visitors will travel across the iconic Coral Sea and explore the rich relationships of ancient First Nations communities – their trade, customs, and connections.


Based on the latest archaeological research by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH) the exhibition reveals international trade and relationships between the seafaring cultures of southern New Guinea, Torres Strait and the east coast of North Queensland dating back thousands of years.


Queensland Museum Network CEO Dr Jim Thompson said more than 23,000 people have visited the exhibition since it opened in December last year providing an insight into a thriving cultural environment that has its origins thousands of years ago.


“It’s been an honour to showcase and share First Nations histories through an original exhibition that was co-curated by Queensland Museum and CABAH (The ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage),” Dr Thompson said.


“I hope everyone who visits the exhibition takes away an understanding of the deep Indigenous history of the Coral Sea.”


Many objects in the exhibition have never been on display before giving visitors the chance to see artefacts that are thousands of years old including a fragment of rare, antique Lapita pottery originating from Papua New Guinea and a large wooden outrigger canoe made in 1900, which is an example of how many of the communities navigated and traded across the vast ocean.


Museum of Tropical Queensland and James Cook University (JCU) Senior Curator of Maritime Archaeology Dr Maddy McAllister said it’s been a privilege to be part of such an important exhibition.


“Exhibitions like this allow us to offer a window to the past where we can reveal incredible stories from thousands of years ago and showcase some amazing artefacts from the State Collection,” Dr McAllister said.


“One of my favourite objects on display are some armbands carved out of shell, that are a halfway process showing the effort and importance of these objects that were traded across the Coral Sea.”


CABAH Deputy Director, Professor Sean Ulm said the exhibition celebrates an ongoing research partnership by Traditional Owners and custodians around the Coral Sea.


“Combining Indigenous knowledges and archaeology has led to new understandings of the extraordinary complexity and connections across the vast Coral Sea,” Professor Ulm said.


To support the exhibition, CABAH and Queensland Museum Publications have produced an exhibition catalogue that includes further information on the research, curatorial work and the objects that feature in the displays. The book is available to purchase online and at Museum of Tropical Queensland.


The exhibition closes at Museum of Tropical Queensland on Monday 2 May 2022 and will be on display at Queensland Museum, South Bank later in 2022.


Media Contact:
Andrea Hughes | Marketing Coordinator | Museum of Tropical Queensland