By by ARTAND Foundation

The ARTAND Foundation has donated the Art & Australia library of more than 2,000 books and magazine collections to the Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) to support the museum and its education partners, Riverina TAFE, La Trobe University, Wodonga TAFE and schools.


After two years of major redevelopment, the new Murray Art Museum Albury (MAMA) opened in October as one of the state's largest exhibition spaces. The new Museum has colonised the old gallery building and the neighbouring Burrows House, doubling the former Albury Regional Gallery’s exhibition area with ten galleries. Moving away from the traditional gallery reference, the new name mirrors the updated vision of the museum to culturally enrich the Murray region and, in the words of the new Director Jacqui Hemsley, foster a dynamic space of ‘whimsy’ and ‘fun’. The titular shift from ‘gallery’ to ‘museum’ signifies the breadth of the facility’s new direction, as noted by Guinever Threlkeld, Chair of the MAMA Advisory Committee: ‘An art museum owns a collection, commissions new work, is involved in education and the development of the community, and is a much bigger enterprise than a gallery’. Although decisively modern, the acronym ‘MAMA’ carries maternal connotations that evoke notions of nurture – an idea that resonates with the Museum’s aim to nourish the creative sensibilities of its visitors and nurture emerging local talent by offering young artists from the Albury region a professional platform. MAMA will also stage major national and international exhibitions in its flexible, state of the art exhibition spaces as well as showcasing Albury City’s extensive permanent collection. During the redevelopment, all kinds of artifacts were discovered – including children’s toys, buttons, bones, bottles and ceramics – and these archaeological relics will be on permanent display in the Museum via a specially designed glass viewing plinth over an excavated well.

Significantly, MAMA’s inaugural show ‘Wiradjuri Ngurambanggu’ (on Wiradjuri Country) considers the history and heritage of the land on which it resides. Curated by Bianca Acimovic, the presentation challenges conventional perceptions of Aboriginal art, reflecting both indigenous and non-indigenous interpretations of ‘Country’ whilst also canvassing a crossroads of traditional culture with contemporary life. It brings together existing and newly commissioned works by five contemporary Australian artists with Wiradjuri heritage: Jonathan Jones, Brook Andrew, Lorraine Connelly-Northey, Karla Dickens and Nicole Foreshew. Andrew’s two-storey, black-and-white wall painting clads the foyer of the new MAMA building, while Jones has made an installation from dishwashing sponges covered in stripes and propped up on shelves. Karla Dickens is debuting a new sculptural installation of antique birdcages that emblemises the aftermath of colonisation, and Connelly-Northey’s sculptures are created from the pressed metal ceiling of the old Albury Regional Art Gallery in a poetic homage to its predecessor. A number of sculptural, dance and language projects involving other local indigenous artists are also featured.

Staged within the exhibition is ‘Winhangaygunhaha Wiradjuri Ngurambang’ (Remembering Wiradjuri Country), a show curated by Jonathon Jones that looks at Indigenous and non-Indigenous representations of Wiradjuri country during the eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A kind of collective portrait of the Albury region, the works precipitate the oft-forgotten knowledge that Australia had a cultural identity long before it was settled.

Wiradjuri Ngurambanggu, Murray Art Museum Albury, 2 October – 29 November 2015