Price, S., Allen, L. & Knowles, C.
Price, S., Allen, L. & Knowles, C. 2021. ‘The (Not-So) Sacred Ibis’ – Archibald Meston, The Colonial Collector, and the Queensland Museum. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Culture 12: 73–121. Brisbane. https://doi.org/10.17082/j.2205-3126.96.36.1991.2021-04
Aboriginal artefacts, Archibald Meston, Indigenous History, Queensland Museum Collections, Wild Australia Show
This paper focuses on Archibald Meston’s association with Queensland Museum through a detailed analysis of the collections and the transactions with Meston over six decades. The analysis gives key insights into the nature of Meston’s collecting, an aspect of his life not previously investigated. Consideration of items associated with Meston found in other collections at Queensland Museum has further allowed for a broader conceptualisation of what is the Archibald Meston collection. Meston’s relationship with the Queensland Museum is explored through the lens of the collections and reveals how the interests and policies of the museum may have shaped or even influenced Meston’s collecting at specific points in time. This paper further considers the history of a purportedly large collection of Aboriginal artefacts amassed by Meston that were used during performances and lectures for the Wild Australia Show tour (1892–1893). Reassembling what exactly is the Archibald Meston collection at the Queensland Museum has allowed for a reframing of our understanding of Meston the man, who, while neither serious or classic collector, nor scientist or scholar, was a self-proclaimed expert on Aboriginal ‘ethnography’, as well as a showman and entrepreneur.