Dress print from the Torres Strait Islander cultures collection

Torres Strait Islander cultures

Learn from Australia’s First Nations knowledge holders and explore the language, culture, and technology of Queensland's Torres Strait Islander people, represented through the stories and objects within the collections at Queensland Museum.


The First Nations collections embody the rich unique history and living practices of Australia’s First Nations people – the Aboriginal peoples and the Torres Strait Islander peoples. Queensland is unique in that it is the ancestral home to both First Nations groups. By working directly with Traditional Owners and their community to facilitate access to collections and deepen knowledge sharing with the public, Queensland Museum aims to elevate First Nations art, culture and voice through the collections and research. Queensland is the ancestral home of both First Nations people.

The Torres Strait Collection is reflective of the unique history and culture of the people of the Torres Strait Islands, from the mythological past to the present. Torres Strait Islanders have a distinct culture known as ‘Ailan Kastom’ that varies slightly within each Island or community. The Torres Strait Islander, personal and cultural identity are dependent on their language, sea, totems, stars, and winds.

This significant collection consists of objects and materials that expresses their deep spiritual practices, stories, and its connection to place, lag or ged.


Collection highlights

Queensland Museum is custodian to more than 26,000 objects that comprise the Torres Strait Islanders collection. The collection is rich in the stories it tells and is made up of items that relate to culture, language, ceremony and technology.

The collections span centuries. Some of the oldest items were made by Ancestors well before the 1880s. More recent additions to the collections have been purchased by Queensland Museum from First Nations artists who create innovative works and draw on both traditional and contemporary styles, designs and techniques in their art practice.

View collection

Research overview

Queensland Museum prioritises collaboration with First Nations communities to research and interpret the collections. By recentering and recording First Nations voices, language and stories, these collections can be appropriately cared for and shared with our communities and audiences.

Current research with First Nations collections at Queensland Museum investigates how museums can continue to decolonise the collections, by emphasising the agency of Traditional Owners and knowledge holders. Collections and Research staff across the museum network are also collaborating on ways to incorporate First Nations knowledge into broader fields of research – in areas such as cultural and social history, biodiversity and geoscience.


Townsville Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Centre (TATSICC) Collection Project
Since 2005, the TATSICC has been a collaborative space, showcasing the significant history, living culture and heritage of Townsville’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

In 2020, the collection of historic and contemporary objects showcased at the Cultural Centre was relocated to a new temporary home: Queensland Museum Tropics. At the request of TATSICC the collection will remain in the care of the museum until a new cultural centre is established in Townsville.

View full collection 


Find out more

Did you know you don't have to come to the museum to see our collection?

Over 5,000 items of our Cultures & Histories collection are now accessible online for free. All you need is your device and a little bit of inspiration to explore Queensland’s cultural and natural heritage.

View collections

You might be interested in