Bangerang Cultural Centre: celebrating all Indigenous peoples
For 30 years the Bangerang Cultural Centre in Shepparton, Victoria, has been a keeping place for priceless Indigenous art and artefacts from across Australia.
Developed and managed by the local Aboriginal community, under the leadership of Bangerang elder John “Sandy” Atkinson AM, the centre has always aimed to increase awareness and understanding of the world’s oldest living culture.
The Centre is funded by the Australian Government’s Office of the Arts for its work in preserving culture and celebrating the local Aboriginal community.
Building on the strength of Indigenous cultures and identities is pivotal to Closing the Gap on Indigenous disadvantage. And through the centre, this culture continues to be strengthened and promoted.
In a bid to increase tourism to Shepparton in the early 1970’s, an International Village was established to showcase different cultures from around the world. The local Aboriginal community were invited to participate and they decided to build a museum, the Bangerang Cultural Centre.
“It’s amazing how Aboriginals are one of the oldest groups of people on the planet and yet people know so very little about them,” Uncle Sandy said.
“When we were deciding what to put in this museum I thought it was important to use real places and real stories.”
The International Village project eventually collapsed but the centre remains open for business.
The main feature of the centre is four life-size dioramas, each depicting significant scenes from early Victorian Aboriginal life.
Artist George Bowning started work on the dioramas in 1981. A combination of life-size models, detailed painted backdrops and artefacts, the scenes depict four key stories: the Bogong moth feast, life on the Murray River, Mt William stone quarry and the importance of ceremony.
While the dioramas focus on local stories, the remainder of the displays represent Indigenous cultures from across the country. They feature ceramics, glass works, carvings, woven baskets, paintings and a range of tools and weapons.
The collection includes works commissioned and purchased by the Australia Council’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Arts Board from Indigenous communities during the 1970’s.
“When we built this place, all of those things were presented to us,” Uncle Sandy said.
“It’s a great honour for our community to have the privilege of looking after that magnificent collection.”Tweet