Colonialism (world gallery - additional information)


Colonialism refers to a period that was shaped by much of the world being dominated by distant, foreign powers that were often motivated by trade, politics and greed.

Foreign powers imposed their own ideologies, beliefs and education systems and practices on the people that they colonised. People suffered from forced separation from their land in Australia and other areas, and vital resources were extracted for the benefit of those in power.

For many communities in Oceania, contact with Europeans from the 18th century onward had a devastating impact on the local way of life. Yet there is also resilience with many traditions remaining strong.

In the World Gallery, the Perspectives section on strangers displays depictions of integral figures to colonial rule, including a district officer and a bust of Queen Victoria.

The relationship between museums and their colonial pasts has been the subject of much debate and is often considered a contentious one. Many collections worldwide were formed during this period: purchased at auction houses, removed by force during violent campaigns, stolen, offered as gifts, and made specifically for sale.

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: