New name for NT’s National Aboriginal Art Gallery, but still no senior Aboriginal curatorial staff
The National Gallery of Indigenous Art may soon have a new “appropriate and inclusive” name.
- A reference group is working on the selection of a new name for the National Gallery of Indigenous Art
- The Government of the Northern Territories has yet to appoint senior Indigenous conservationists to the gallery’s board
- Mparntwe keeper Benedict Stevens has recently joined the gallery’s new reference group
Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Chansey Paech said the gallery currently only had a “working title”.
He said the site’s reference group was working on a new title for the Alice Springs site, which is currently in the design phase.
“We’ll end up with something along the lines of ‘Australia’s First Nations Gallery’, with an appropriate First Nations name,” Mr Paech said.
The minister also confirmed that the government has yet to appoint senior Indigenous curatorial staff to the gallery’s board.
Job postings for a First Nations Senior Curator and Assistant Curator went live in March.
“Several people were very interested,” he said.
“We went through the recruitment, and a few people, due to personal circumstances, withdrew their applications.
“But we certainly have an area of interest now that the site has been secured.”
Acquisition of the Anzac Oval complete
The gallery has been a source of controversy since it was first announced in 2017, with years of fruitless negotiations with traditional custodians over the location of the building.
This culminated in a dispute between the territorial government and Alice Springs City Council last year, which ended earlier this year when Mayor Matt Paterson announced the council would end its legal battle .
Mr Paech said the NT Government has now completed its acquisition of Anzac Oval as the gallery’s new site.
“It will remain this community space indefinitely,” he said.
“Obviously, there will be the development of the National Aboriginal Gallery, but it will remain open to the public and certainly to [rugby union and rugby league] until the new ovals have been constructed.
“So in the short term, not much change on this site.”
Benedict Stevens joins the reference group
Mr Paech also confirmed that Mparntwe goalkeeper Benedict Stevens has joined the gallery’s new 12-person reference group.
Mr Stevens, who represents native title property group Mparntwe in the talks, initially supported the gallery but has more recently expressed opposition to its location on the oval.
Mr. Paech will not confirm Mr. Stevens’ current position on the matter.
“He will continue to provide expert cultural knowledge and advice on design and elements, just like the other members,” Mr. Paech said.
“So this project is moving forward. It’s seen in a positive light across the country.”
The Government of the Northern Territories awarded a $7.175 million design tender for the gallery to BVN Architecture of Alice Springs and the territory’s Susan Dugdale in March.
Mr Paech said the architects had completed initial internal consultations with the Government of the Northern Territories and certain specialist stakeholders and would soon move into the public consultation process.
The design is expected to be finalized by the end of 2023.