Highlights of The art of healing: Australian Indigenous bush medicine
Tuesday 4 January to Saturday 2 September 2023
The art of healing: Australian Indigenous bush medicine follows the premise of Tjukurrpa (dreaming). It looks at Indigenous healing practice as past, present and future simultaneously. It presents examples of healing practice from the many distinct and varied Indigenous communities throughout Australia shown through contemporary art practice.
For example, Gija elder and artist Shirley Purdie has spent years illustrating the bush medicine of her region near Warmun in the Kimberly. While Treahna Hamm reveals in Yorta Yorta Bush Medicine First Aid Kit the use of medicinal plants in Victoria.
The exhibition is accompanied by a major catalogue with the perspectives of Indigenous communities represented. The key to this exhibition is revealing that traditional Indigenous healing is a current practice informed by the past and an intrinsic part of the life of indigenous people in Australia.
Rosie Ngwarraye Ross commented on collecting bush medicine:
‘We look for these plants in rocky country, we can find a little purple plum that we
use to clean the kidneys and sometimes for flu. The yellow flowers are used for scabies;
we boil them and add water and wash our skin with it. The pink flowers we use for when
we have sore eyes; we mix the flowers with water and the colour changes to a light green.’
Communicating this love, knowledge and appreciation of Country and all it provides is important to Rosie Ngwarraye Ross, because ‘it keeps culture strong’.
Works from this exhibition toured internationally in 2019 to Bush House, King’s College London (14 May to 7 July), and to the Berlin Museum of Medical History (BerlinerMedizinhistorisches Museum der Charité) (24 October 2019 to 2 February 2020).
Rosie Ngwarraye Ross (b. 1951)
artist location: Ampilatwatja, Northern Territory
Bush flowers and bush medicine plants , 2015
acrylic on linen,
91.0 × 91.0 cm.
MHM2017.3, Medical History Museum
Dentistry: Innovation and EducationOnline
Dentistry: Innovation and education
This exhibition celebrates the 135th Anniversary of the establishment of the Odontological Society of Victoria in 1884, which brought about the development of the first dental school in the State.
The Medical History Museum and Henry Forman Atkinson Museum thanks Australian Dental Association Victorian Branch, for sponsoring Dentistry: Innovation and education exhibition and catalogue.
Venom: Fear, Fascination and DiscoveryOnline
Venom: Fear, Fascination and Discovery
This exhibition tells of the fascination with the power of venom and the quest for a universal antidote against this most feared of poisons. Over thousands of years Australian Aboriginal people incorporated ways of understanding and dealing with these venomous creatures in their cultural and healing practices. Thereafter, from colonial times to the present day the search for an antidote has continued. Indeed, from the first Professor of Medicine, George Britton Halford, the University of Melbourne has been part of the global debate on the nature of venom. Contributions were made through collaboration between major research and cultural institutions: Melbourne Zoo, Museum Victoria, Healesville Sanctuary, the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (now bioCSL). Struan Sutherland founded the Australian Venom Research Unit (AVRU), in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Melbourne, upon the privatisation of CSL Ltd, in 1994.
Watch introductory video
Publications complement and enhance the Faculty Museums exhibition program. Themes include women in medicine, cancer, epilepsy and Australian Indigenous healing practice encompassing milestones in health care examining the path of discovery through innovation, education and social change.