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Melanie Raberts

Collections Manager, First Peoples

About me

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The First Peoples Collections at Museums Victoria is immeasurably significant and complex in its cultural and geographic range and in its time depth. I have worked with this Collection since the late 1980s, focussing on collection management functions which comprise the underpinning infrastructure, systems, processes and methods applied to document, manage and care for the Collection. Concurrently, and a keystone to this foundation, is the application of particular cultural protocols for each part of the First Peoples Collections, as advised by the Communities of Origin whose cultural material is in the Museum’s care. Over the course of this time I have worked at all levels of management and across all diverse aspects of collection management, from an item-level focus to strategic planning and practical implementation, within the context of the First Peoples Collections (namely Australian Aboriginal Open Objects, International Indigenous Objects and the Donald Thomson Collection).

Current activities

The core collection management ‘house-keeping’ routine (both for the care of the physical collection and the associated collection information) combines with facilitating and supporting access to the First Peoples Collection for a wide range of uses, such as research undertaken by Communities of Origin, artists, academics, publishers and tertiary students undertaking specific research projects. 

Prioritised and targeted project work is another stream of activity that is determined by legal and financial compliance which involves auditing, investigation and reporting; projects initiated by external sources or partners seeking linkage with the First Peoples’ Collection which thereby requires collaboration with collections staff; the preparation of outward loans of cultural objects for exhibition at other venues; and facilitating the repatriation of particular cultural objects to Traditional Owners, to name just a few.


Bachelor of Arts (Social Anthropology, English Literature), Monash University

Graduate Diploma of Applied Science (Museum Studies), Deakin University

Master of Applied Science (Museum Studies), Deakin University

National Short course: Anthropology and Public Health, Flinders University

Graduate Certificate in Arts (Anthropology), University of Melbourne

Diploma in Law and Collections management, Institute of Art and Law, UK


Keeler, C. and Raberts, M. 1990. KOORIE – 40,000 Years of South-eastern Australia’s Aboriginal Culture. Victorian Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Trust.

Raberts, M., 1993. “Recognising its presence: The Pacific Collection at the Museum of Victoria”. The Journal of the Pacific Arts Association – Pacific Arts, 7: 32-37.

Raberts, M., 1995. “The Collection Manager as a resource person: A case study – the Maori Community and their Collection at the Museum of Victoria”. COMA Bulletin, 26: 33-37.

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