This is the third in a series of posts by National Museum of Australia curator George Main that provides updates on the development of a new gallery of Australian environmental history.

Antarctic Ice and other ‘sentinels’ of the Anthropocene

The National Museum of Australia recently acquired an extraordinary porcelain and glass artwork by Julie Bartholomew. Anthropogenic Scrolls: Transparency and Disclosure, interprets the meanings of Antarctic ice and the climate science it informs. See here for more information about the artwork.

Anthropogenic Scrolls will appear in the new gallery’s final chapter, which directly explores the Anthropocene and climate change. This closing section features a range of familiar, material characters of the Australian continent (and Antarctica), which we’ve been calling ‘sentinels’. They include Uluru, Southern Cross, Antarctic ice, a termite mound, Sydney beaches, platypus and Victorian mountain ash. Here we are enabling encounters between visitors and the active materiality of each sentinel. The particular material form and character of each sentinel holds knowledge about great ecological and climatic shifts across the depths of time. Contemporary challenges presented by climate change are interpreted in the context of deep time, encouraging within our visitors that ‘deep time awareness’ described by Robert Macfarlane (see previous post) that fosters an honouring and potentially a strengthening of the ‘web of gift’, of networks that offer ecological and social resilience as the Anthropocene unfolds.

If you would like further information about the National Museum of Australia’s new environmental history gallery, email curator George Main, [email protected]. See also NEW GALLERY OF AUSTRALIAN ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY AT THE NMA and BUNYA TO FEATURE IN NEW ENVIRONMENTAL HISTORY GALLERY

Image of artwork by Julie Bartholomew, Anthropogenic Scrolls: Transparency and Disclosure