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Collections without end: the ghostly presences of Captain Matthew McVicker Smyth

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journal contribution
posted on 01.01.2018, 00:00 authored by Andrea WitcombAndrea Witcomb, Alistair Paterson
The discovery of five photographs in 2018 in the State Library of Western Australia led us to the existence of a forgotten private museum housing the collection of Captain Matthew McVicker Smyth in early-twentieth-century Perth. Captain Smyth was responsible for the selling of Nobel explosives used in the agriculture and mining industries. The museum contained mineral specimens in cases alongside extensive, aesthetically organized displays of Australian Aboriginal artifacts amid a wide variety of ornaments and decorative paintings. The museum reflects a moment in the history of colonialism that reminds us today of forms of dispossession, of how Aboriginal people were categorized in Australia by Western worldviews, and of the ways that collectors operated. Our re-creation brings back into existence a significant Western Australian museum and opens up a new discussion about how such private collections came into existence and indeed, in this instance, about how they eventually end.

History

Journal

Museum worlds: advances in research

Volume

6

Pagination

94 - 111

Publisher

Berghahn Books

Location

New York, N.Y.

ISSN

2049-6729

Language

English

Grant ID

ARC LP160100078

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2018, Berghahn Books