Opening of the exhibition Built on Culture:
The Art of Papua New Guinea
Remarks by Ms Bronte Moules
Australia’s Acting High Commissioner
to Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery
14 September 2015
The National Museum and Art Gallery plays a vital role in conserving Papua New Guinea's cultural traditions and its history. It also helps to shape Papua New Guinea's national identity.
It is a pleasure to be here this-evening to participate in the launch of this landmark exhibition: Built on Culture: The Art of Papua New Guinea.
This exhibition is a celebration of Papua New Guinea.
First and foremost, this exhibition celebrates 40 years of the Independent State of Papua New Guinea.
It also celebrates thousands of years of artistic expression by people living on these lands - from the Highlands, to the coastal areas, and out to the islands.
This artistic expression has helped to lay the foundations for the modern Independent State of Papua New Guinea - a proud nation that is built on culture.
I think there's something for everyone in this exhibition.
There is beautiful artistry, and there are objects that stir your imagination.
It's pleasing to know so many of the objects in this exhibition are being displayed for the first time.
The objects on display are a small, but representative sample of the National Museum and Art Gallery's extraordinary collection, which is housed in this building.
When I walk through this exhibition I love that I am not just looking at objects, but that I am really experiencing the culture of Papua New Guinea.
For me, tonight is also about celebrating the strong and deep cultural relationship that exists between Papua New Guinea and Australia.
This relationship, including links between the National Museum and Art Gallery and Australia, has been longstanding and strong.
The original construction of this building was funded through an Australian cultural grant, and an Australian – Martin Fowler – was the building's architect.
Throughout the NMAG’s history there have been partnerships, both formal and informal, between the National Museum and Art Gallery and Australian cultural institutions.
These partnerships have supported cultural exchanges between Papua New Guinea and Australia.
There is a deep appreciation of the importance of these cultural links among Australia’s political leaders.
Last week, Australia announced a new package of support to the National Museum and Art Gallery.
This is Australia's contribution to mark Papua New Guinea's 40th anniversary of Independence.
The support includes the establishment of a new partnership between The National Museum and Art Gallery and Australia's national cultural institutions:
• The National Gallery of Australia
• The National Museum of Australia; and
• The Australian War Memorial.
I’d like to acknowledge Assistant Directors from the National Gallery of Australia and the National Museum of Australia, Dr Kirsten Paisley and Dr Janda Gooding, who are with us here tonight.
I am pleased the Australian institutions have been able to assist the National Museum and Art Gallery, under the leadership of Dr Moutu, with preparations for this exhibition.
Just last week, the senior curator from the National Gallery of Australia, Dr Michael Gunn, was working side by side with the staff here, providing advice on the installation of the exhibition. Dr Gunn is with us this-evening.
I am also pleased that the partnership with our institutions has resulted in the inclusion, in this exhibition, of works from the Official Papuan Collection, which is housed at the National Museum of Australia.
This is the first time in almost 100 years that these priceless objects have been in Papua New Guinea.
It was a wonderful moment when Dr Moutu and the Registrar from the National Museum of Australia, Patrick Baum, opened the crates containing the objects in front of the waiting media.
But it is not only our Prime Minister who has taken a keen interest in the National Museum and Art Gallery.
A steady-stream of Australian parliamentarians have visited the National Museum and Art Gallery, with many more expressing interest – so the word is obviously out and I look forward to many more Australians visiting in the future.
In concluding, I wanted to highlight another important aspect of Australia's support, which is the development of a masterplan for the National Museum and Art Gallery.
It was developed under the leadership of Dr Moutu and the team here at the National Museum and Gallery.
I'm sure many of you have inspected the fabulous masterplan models that are on display this evening. You will see that they include significant infrastructure upgrades to the National Museum and Art Gallery.
But the masterplan isn't just about infrastructure upgrades. It's also about transforming the National Museum and Art Gallery into a thriving cultural hub and a centre of knowledge and education.
The masterplan is bold and ambitious and will require strong leadership and support from a wide variety of partners to realise the vision.
We hope to see, and encourage, contributions from others including the private sector and philanthropic organisations.
An early goal that we can all work towards is continuing to upgrade National Museum and Art Gallery ahead of APEC in 2018 – this wonderful institution will no doubt prove a star attraction at that time.
Finally, let me finish by thanking everyone involved in the development of this exhibition.
In particular I wish to extend my deep thanks to Dr Moutu and the staff here at the National Museum and Art Gallery, including exhibition officers Joyce, Edith, Emma and Bethsheba.
I would also like to thank Nellie Nizette, who has volunteered so much of her time to assist with preparations, and Dr Peter Naumann from the National Gallery of Australia.
You have done a wonderful job. This exhibition is a true credit to you all.
I understand exhibitions normally close to three years to prepare for. This exhibition has been developed and installed in approximately 10 months – making your achievement even more remarkable.
And now, I would like to formally hand-over the masterplan for the National Museum and Art Gallery to the Director, Dr Moutu.