At the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

BY MARTIN FORD

Jenny Gall (Research Fellowships program at NFSA) and myself took the train across the English countryside to Cambridge University. Our destination was the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

We were visiting to discuss the collections of AC Haddon who headed an expedition from Cambridge to the Torres Straits in 1898, in particular the historically significant film footage which the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) holds in its Indigenous collections. This film only lasts 4 minutes but is the first moving image recorded in Australia, and the first so called ethnographic film in the world! We were privileged to view the actual masks worn in the film and the photographs taken during the filming.

The curator of the collection, Dr Anita Herle, took time out to discuss with us the important work with communities of origin around this collection. She raised the possibilities of bringing together the many disparate parts of this amazing collection which is spread across several institutions around the world. Potential solutions include a co-nomination to the UNESCO Memory of the World register or an online reunification of the collection in a digital form. Exciting projects lie ahead.