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Holograms, VR bid for Aboriginal Cultural Centre to "bring Country to life"

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Holograms and virtual reality should be used to bring the SA Museum’s world-renowned Aboriginal artefacts collection to life at Lot Fourteen, a State Government report has recommended.

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The proposal follows a drawn-out feasibility study involving the state’s major cultural institutions and Aboriginal communities into Premier Steven Marshall’s vision for an Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site.

Marshall spruiked the idea ahead of last year’s state election, at the time saying the absence of a national Indigenous gallery was a “significant omission by Australian governments and a fantastic opportunity for South Australia”.

A report compiled by consultancy firm PWC summarising the consultation’s findings – released this week on the Department for Premier and Cabinet website, four months overdue – states the centre should be housed in an “instantly recognisable” multi-level building featuring a theatre, events and function rooms, and outdoor exhibition spaces.

According to the report, the gallery should “bring Country to life”, with exhibitions that are “constantly changing and evolving” using modern technology such as virtual reality, 3D, moving pictures and holographic images.

“Using traditional storytelling techniques along with unique physical collections and modern technology, the ACCC (Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre) can tell the story of Aboriginal culture and history in a way that has never been done before,” the report states.

“It should be a space that allows a sensory immersion experience for the visitor.

“When you enter the AACC you are immediately taken into Aboriginal Australia through the use of cutting-edge technology. People forget where they are and completely absorbed into the story that is being told around them.”

The report suggests the SA Museum relinquish custodianship of its 30,000-piece Aboriginal artefacts collection to the Lot Fourteen centre “to preserve these collections for future generations and to ensure appropriate access by Aboriginal peoples”.

InDaily reported in August that the bulk of museum’s collection is at risk of water damage, as it is stored in a leaking shed that does not house appropriate storage units.

The museum had, over several years, called on successive State Governments to provide funding to fix the facility, or find an alternative location to store the collection.

In a media release sent this morning, SA Museum director Brian Oldman said he looked forward to offering the museum’s collection to the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre at Lot Fourteen.

“Based on the Museum’s collection, South Australia has the unique opportunity to work with Aboriginal leaders to develop an iconic, nation-leading centre that will provide a gateway to Aboriginal Australia,” he said.

“The Australian Aboriginal community are at the core of visioning, governance and operation of the new cultural centre.”

The PWC report made no mention of the Art Gallery of South Australia offering part of its Indigenous art collection to the AACC, despite the gallery being one of the key cultural institutions consulted as part of the project.

The PWC report stressed that the AACC “should ensure it is complementing… not competing” with other cultural institutions in Adelaide, including Tandanya, which already brands itself as Australia’s “National Aboriginal Cultural Institute”.

“When visitors come to the AACC, there is the opportunity to showcase these organisations and make it easy for visitors to find them and connect with them (and to understand how they will extend their experience of Aboriginal culture),” it states.

The PWC report suggests a standalone governing body be responsible for the direction and management of the Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre.

It suggested the governance team have two co-chairs – one Aboriginal and one non-Aboriginal – who would oversee a team of predominately Aboriginal board members.

The gallery should also, according to the report, have an Aboriginal employment and procurement strategy, as well as offer traineeships for Aboriginal workers.

“The AACC should instil pride in all Aboriginal Australians through the stories that are told and the celebration of Aboriginal culture over the past 65,000+ years and into the future,” the report states.

“It should be a celebration and recognition of the immense achievements, ingenuity and contribution of Aboriginal peoples and culture.”

Premier Steven Marshall told InDaily in a statement that the report had identified four stages of the project, which would be undertaken over the next 12 months.

“These include establishing project governance, an operating model and design of the Centre,” he said.

An operating model, flagged by the State Government in this year’s Budget, is expected to outline operating costs.

The report said the State Government would be required to provide a “significant portion” of funding to operate the AACC, with the rest of the costs to ideally come from the Federal Government, on-site revenue-generating schemes and philanthropic donations.

In August, InDaily reported the State Government had dropped the word “national” from the title of the gallery amid competition with the Northern Territory over plans to build what both governments claim will be Australia-first institutions.

The PWC report recommends calling the gallery a “centre”, stating that “for many people, the word ‘museum’ or ‘gallery’ mean different things”.

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