New leadership reimagines University Museums and Collections through First Nations lens

Portrait image of Brook Andrew in front of blurred background
The new position will focus on the urgent international need to create spaces of care and rethink museum practices through First Nations perspectives. Image: supplied

Professor Brook Andrew has been announced as the inaugural Reimagining Museums and Collections Director at the University of Melbourne.

This leadership position created with the generous support of the Mordant Family, will focus on the urgent international need to create spaces of care and rethinking museum practices through a global collective of First Nations creatives, community members and scholars.

Museums and Collections Director Rose Hiscock welcomed the appointment.

“The role to reimagine practice and methodologies through a First Nations lens of healing is crucial to the future of museums and we are delighted that Brook Andrew will be leading this important work,” Ms Hiscock said.

Professor Andrew, whose kinship is Wiradjuri and Ngunnawal on his mother’s side and Celtic on his father’s side, is an accomplished artist, writer and scholar.

He will collaborate with the newly formed international collective BLAK Care of Radical Energy (BLAK C.O.R.E.). This collective is driven by First Nations methodologies and cultural practices focusing on care and healing in often culturally precarious spaces.

“This role is an opportunity to practice our ways of culture and to support opportunities of walumarra (protection) through a focus on Yindyamarra gunhanha, solidarity, systemic change, and healing,” Professor Andrew said.

Yindyamarra gunhanha is a Wiradjuri word which translates to ongoing respect – Professor Andrew created this term as an alternative to the term decolonial.

Central to the Program are the Mordant Family BLAK C.O.R.E Fellowships; 12 Fellowships over four years to support local and international First Nations creatives, cultural and thought leaders. This is a rare opportunity for Fellows to rest and regenerate, whilst having time to collaborate and extend reciprocity through their own agenda of radical energy and enquiry.

These Fellowships will seed radical care work and influence within the Museums and Collections and wider University community, supporting connections with grass roots communities, academics, and researchers. The unique Mordant Family Fellowships demonstrate the need for ambitious and urgent work needed in this global space of museum and healing practices.

Honorary Enterprise Professor Cav. Simon Mordant AO is a passionate collector of contemporary art with a long history of benefaction to the arts.

“I have long admired how the University of Melbourne has put the arts as central to all it does-making it unique in Australia. This new initiative to put First Nations as core to the discussion could not have come at a more important time and these Fellowships will make a lasting impact not only on the recipients but also on all they touch and engage with,” Honorary Enterprise Professor Cav. Mordant said.

“We have known Rose Hiscock and Brook Andrew for a long time and admire their ambitions. We are delighted to support this initiative.”

The first Mordant Family Fellowship has been announced as British-Kenyan artist Grace Ndiritu. The Fellowship commenced in June 2022 and will connect Ms Ndiritu with First Nations peoples within the museum, contemporary art and healing space.