John M. MacKenzie
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The South Australian Museum, Adelaide
in Museums and empire
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Museums deal in history of one sort or another, or at least contemporary perceptions of such histories. In the case of the South Australian Museum (SAuM), it has been customary to identify its origins as far back as 1834. The colony of South Australia (SA) was in the process of being conceived as a planned, idealistic and free settlement, an offshoot of the United Kingdom rather than an Australian territory tainted by transportation like its predecessors. The museums in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide had all been more interested in Pacific materials than Aboriginal right up to the last decades of the nineteenth century. By the late nineteenth century, the international exchange of natural history specimens of all sorts had been replaced by a prolific trade in ethnographic materials. This shift reflected the change in emphases of museums throughout the British Empire, apparent in Australia no less than elsewhere.

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Museums and empire

Natural history, human cultures and colonial identities


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