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Reconciliation story gives museum an edge on rivals

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Sarah Martin, Cape York Weekly

A project telling the story of the first recorded act of reconciliation in Australia has resulted in the Cooktown Museum taking out a major gong at the Gallery and Museum Achievement Awards in Brisbane.

The Cooktown Museum, owned and managed by the National Trust of Australia Queensland, was a joint winner for its Reimagining James Cook project, which tells the fascinating story of the Guugu Yimithirr people’s interactions with Cook from both a European and First Nations perspective.

Community members, Traditional Owners and design studio Relative Creative began engagement in 2018 to redevelop and modernise the museum, which included rebranding from James Cook Museum, new interpretive collateral and two new rooms.

Cape York Weekly took a tour of the museum with heritage site coordinator Beverley Grant and heritage officer Nikki Darvell following the award announcement, enjoying the view from the recently refurbished verandah, which is now open to the public.

The new displays, including the Bama Room, Maritime Room and a collection of curios from the museum attic, are on display for the first time.

The Bama Room features seven pillars wrapped in exquisite fabric created by Elders at the Hope Vale Art Centre.

Rebekah Butler, the Museums and Galleries Queensland executive director, said Cooktown Museum and the National Trust of Australia Queensland had remarkable vision.

“A key measure of the success of the Cooktown Museum project has been the continued engagement with the Cooktown community, including the Guugu Yimithirr traditional owners,” she said.

“Reimagining the museum has proved to be a major drawcard for tourism in the region, as well as sharing an important message of reconciliation.”

Cape York Weekly 20 December 2022

This article appeared in Cape York Weekly, 20 December 2022.

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