Contemporary reimagining of a museum collection

An analysis of change in a collection of spears from Milingimbi, Arnhem Land

Sophie McLeod

This seminar considers a collection of 135 spears from Milingimbi, today an Aboriginal community but formerly a Methodist Mission Station (1923-1974). It is situated on Yurruwi, the largest of the Crocodile Islands, just off the central Arnhem Land coast in the Northern Territory. The spears were gathered by three different collectors between 1926 and 1959.


Sophie McLeod is a Monash University student completing her final year of an Arts/Law double degree. Sophie majored in Indigenous Cultures and Histories in her Arts degree and last year completed an Honours thesis in collaboration with Museum Victoria focusing on spears from the Milingimbi collections.

Sophie was the inaugural recipient of the Monash–Museum Victoria Collaborative Research Prize for the Humanities (Honours).

Image: Milingimbi Spears, c. 1950, Edgar Wells Collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales. Photographer: Christopher Snee

This lecture was part of the History, Culture & Collections 2016 lecture series held at Melbourne Museum.

Check out our latest series, Museum Lectures.

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