Vatican Museums co-authors and presents 400-page Australian Indigenous Catalogue

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The Vatican Museums has held a presentation on a 400-page Australian Catalogue on indigenous people. “Australia. The Vatican Museums indigenous collection” was co-published by both the Vatican Museums and Aboriginal Studies Press in English and Italian.

Katherine Aigner is the curator for this volume, the third in a series of works found in the ethnological collections at the museum. 

Curator, Australia Catalogue
“The catalogue is written for a general audience. It has a catalogue of objects in the back a scientific record of all the objects, or a selection of the objects in the collection. It also has 18 essays by indigenous and non-indigenous, so by academics, so by grassroots people, activists, custodians and indigenous elders of communities. So... As Pope Francis says, it's not just the environment that we should be careful of, it's also the cultures, the patrimony of different cultures around the world.”

Australian Ambassador to the Holy See
“We're in the heart of the Vatican. We're at the center of Christianity. It's a measure of how the Church and the Holy See view indigenous peoples, first peoples that they place this priority in giving them a voice in a world that sometimes is not willing to listen to them.”

The catalogue is joining the permanent Australian exhibition already at the Vatican Museums. This is an even more concrete way to recognize and honor the cultural, artistic and spiritual traditions of all peoples, which were shown at the presentation. 

One of the artists who is featured in the book also showed a traditional aboriginal dance he still uses today.

Indigenous artist, contributor
“Also, the catalogue of the book, you know, it's a collection in a book from the people in Australia, in northern Australia and western Australia. The catalogue of the book is very magnificent. My art is the totem poles that my people did in the mission time and today we still make those totem poles. So those totem poles are also very specific and important to me and my people.”

The director of the Vatican Museums also spoke about the importance of recognizing cultures as a way to build bridges. 

Director, Vatican Museums
“It's an important event because in a way we gave notice to the world of an important collection we have here in the Ethnological Museum of the Vatican Museums. It's an important collaboration because our museum would like to build bridges and this is a wonderful way to do it.”

These bridges are definitely being constructed as ambassadors from many countries all convened at the Vatican to celebrate not only present-day Australia, but also its rich culture and history. 

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