Sensing the impacts of colonisation, the first Administrator of British New Guinea, William MacGregor, made a significant collection of objects between 1888 and 1898, specifically for its future citizens. This comprehensive legacy of 13,000 objects did not remain in the country but was dispersed to three Australian and six overseas museums.
Our aim is to re-assemble and re-connect this material by 'excavating' its private and official components. This research will focus on the makers and traders to disentangle the social relationships embedded in the objects. Using material-centred, assemblage-based archaeological approaches, we will investigate how indigenous groups used objects to negotiate with the new colonial government.
Excavating MacGregor is a collaborative research initiative generously funded by the Australian Research Council with the University of Sydney, the Australian Museum and Queensland Museum.
Featured image (top of the page): Vatorata LMS missonary training college, Port Morsbey c.1900 (crop)