The Harold Mitchell Foundation has announced it is the major partner with the Australian Government and Australia Council for the Arts for the Australian Indigenous Art Commission (AIAC) in the MusÈe du Quai Branly, Paris, a new museum dedicated to the art and culture of the indigenous peoples of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.
‘The Board of the Harold Mitchell Foundation is delighted to provide a gift of $AU500,000 to this remarkable project which will provide great benefits to millions of people,’ Chair of the Harold Mitchell Foundation, Ms Janet Whiting said. ‘We all have a big stake in achieving a more tolerant and understanding world. This is not just a matter for Government. The philanthropic sector, as well as business and individuals, all have a part to play.’
Jennifer Bott, CEO, Australia Council for the Arts, is pleased that the Australian Government and the Harold Mitchell Foundation have collaborated on this landmark project for Australian Indigenous arts. She said: ‘The Foundation’s support of the AIAC for the MusÈe du Quai Branly will be considered an enduring tribute to Australian Indigenous culture. Its support has made possible the dream of positioning contemporary Indigenous art from Australia in the cultural heart of Europe, to be appreciated for a massive international audience, for many generations to come.’
To be opened by President Jacques Chirac in late June 2006, the MusÈe du Quai Branly features a commission of contemporary Indigenous art from Australia as the signature piece of the Rue de la Universitie Building. This ground-breaking commission, is a series of permanent site-specific public art works which will be part of the architectural fabric of the building. At least 2,500 square metres including 10 sites within the Museum have been dedicated to the Australian installations.
The eight major Australian artists commissioned to work on the project are Lena Nyadbi, Paddy Nyunkuny Bedford, Judy Watson, Gulumbu Yunupingu, John Mawurndjul, Tommy Watson, Ningura Napurrula and Michael Riley. The curators are Brenda L Croft, Senior Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, National Gallery of Australia and Hetti Perkins, Senior Curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art, Art Gallery of New South Wales.
As well as providing significant financial support for the project, the Harold Mitchell Foundation is to also fund the production of a promotional brochure on the commission for the next ten years.
The Harold Mitchell Foundation, in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts, has also established the Harold Mitchell Indigenous Curators Fellowship, which will each year allow an Indigenous Australian curator to have the opportunity for professional development with a residency in association with the MusÈe du Quai Branly.
‘The MQB project is by far the most significant international recognition and presentation of Australian Indigenous culture of all time,’ says Harold Mitchell. ‘Millions of people from all over the world will, each year, come into contact with the oldest continuing living culture on the globe. I am delighted that the Foundation I initiated can be involved in this incredibly significant project. The Foundation is fulfilling everything I had envisioned and in many instances has made a tangible difference to people’s lives. I’m immensely excited by what it has been able to achieve in a comparatively short time.’
The Harold Mitchell Foundation, a charitable organisation fully independent from the Mitchell family’s commercial interests, was established in 2001 with an extremely generous donation from businessman Harold Mitchell and his family, and has already assisted many Indigenous projects. They include the Garma Festival in Arnhem Land, the Victorian Koori Heritage Trust and Worawa College in Healesville. It has also provided funding in the areas of arts and health, including advocacy and exploring partnership initiatives.
The Harold Mitchell Foundation believes that we can all benefit greatly by an increased understanding of the essential and universal characteristics of the human spirit so deeply and clearly expressed through Indigenous cultures.
In the modern developed world, characterised by brilliant invention and rapid change, the Australian Indigenous Art Commission at the MusÈe du Quai Branly provides us all with a special insight into humanity; one that reaches well beyond our own place and time.