Queensland's first storytellers

Queensland Museum recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s First Peoples, and traditional custodians of the lands, seas, and skies where we live and work. Their ancestral narratives are a vital part of Queensland’s identity.

In January 2023, we welcomed Dr Bianca Beetson, a proud Kabi Kabi, Wiradjuri & Ngemba woman, as inaugural Director, First Nations to lead the museum’s growing First Nations team.

Dr Bianca Beetson

Queensland Museum's Dr Bianca Beetson, Director, First Nations. Image: Queensland Museum.

“The museum has started to embark on a really amazing journey, and that journey is about addressing past collecting practices and reframing the relationship with First Nations people, within the museum but also within community.” Dr Beetson said.

“Queensland Museum has a unique role to play—the museum is going through a really important process of truth telling and thinking how can we heal the past? How do we start providing strength and agency to First Nations peoples in our communities and within the museum?

“We have to be responsive to communities when they start engaging with the museum. It’s often a very emotional experience when people come in and view these objects in our collections that have been made by the hands of their ancestors. It helps complete the whole process of reconnecting with cultural identity.

“Sometimes we’re able to meet the makers themselves. We had an amazing moment recently where one of our visitors said, ‘I made that’! These experiences build trust and connections and we also learn new information and knowledge about the collections.”

Close up image of First Nations shields

Image: Queensland Museum.

It’s been a busy first year in the role—Dr Beetson has just launched Queensland Museum’s second Innovate Reconciliation Action Plan and developed a comprehensive four-year framework to embed First Nations voices in all aspects of the museum’s work.

“We’ve got an ambitious strategy for the future. We’re already expanding our First Nations team and working with Traditional Owners across Queensland.

“We’re starting to look at how we tell First Nations stories in our museums—as the oldest living culture, we need to ensure First Nations people can tell their stories, making sure we’re telling them from living experiences, hearing the voices of people who are here now, who have been connected to the stories of these objects and this country for 65,000 years.”

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