December 8th 2018, 2pm, British Museum
A completely unofficial tour of the British Museum with Indigenous Australian campaigner Rodney Kelly and other speakers (tbc).
Next Saturday, December 8th, at 2pm, join Rodney Kelly and other speakers for an unofficial tour of the British Museum’s stolen goods and its controversial oil sponsor.
The museum is coming under increasing pressure to return vital cultural items such as the Parthenon Marbles, the Rosetta Stone and the Rapa Nui’s Moai Head from Easter Island. Come and hear directly from someone with a direct claim to one of the museum’s most notoriously stolen items, along with stories from other repatriation campaigns.
Meet at 2pm in the “Enlightenment” Gallery (Room 1), British Museum, Saturday December 8th
Rodney Kelly will be telling us all about the Gweagal shield, currently on display in the British Museum. In 1770 the shield was carried by an Indigenous man called Cooman, of whom Rodney is a 6th generation direct descendant, when Captain Cook landed at Kamay (also known as Botany Bay). Visible on the shield is a bullet hole from where Cook and his men opened fire on the local people. A bullet went straight through the shield and wounded Cooman in his leg, forcing him and the others to flee the beach.
Cook then stole the shield, as well as other items, and ultimately gave it to the British Museum. The object and the bullet hole in it tell a story of the first contact between the British and the Indigenous Australian people, a story of immense colonial violence, and therefore carries huge significance for the Gweagal people and for Indigenous Australia as a whole. Rodney has been calling for the return of the shield on behalf of the Gweagal people, however the British Museum has shown no sign that they are willing to do so. Read Rodney’s powerful statement here.
The British Museum also has a five-year sponsorship deal with BP. In 2015 the museum placed the Gweagal Shield and other Indigenous Australian artefacts in a BP-sponsored exhibition. The fact that this happened while BP’s detrimental enterprises directly threaten the lives, lands and cultures of Indigenous peoples around the world is outrageous to say the least. The museum has not yet learned its lesson – the current BP-sponsored Assyria exhibition includes looted items from Iraq.
More speakers to be confirmed soon – watch this space!