Warlukurlangu Artists, under the direction of the manager Cecilia Alfonso, the assistant manager Gloria Morales and conservator Catherine Millikan, has been working to restore the Yuendumu Men’s Museum building and conserve its murals since 2006. This project has great cultural and historical significance for the Warlpiri people of Central Australia.
The Yuendumu Men’s Museum is a solid stone building located on the main road into Yuendumu. Construction of the museum began in 1963 by an Aboriginal ‘work gang’ who quarried the flat sandstone from the hills above Yuendumu. The building was officially opened in 1971 and was originally used to store secret/sacred objects. The building later fell into disrepair.
In 2006 the management of the art centre consulted with the men of the community to investigate ways to conserve the extraordinary murals on the interior walls of the building and restore the stone building. Extensive community consultation was carried out and a heritage assessment completed to identify what was needed.
Work carried out has included:
- Meticulous documentation of the murals and collection of significant remains.
- Weatherproofing the building with a new roof and floor to prevent further damage
- Cleaning and conservation of the murals and reconstruction of the ceremonial mounds.
- Creation of a new ground painting.
- Landscaping of the grounds.
- Design of the interior interpretative displays
This project would not have been possible without generous funding and support from:
- Australian Government through the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
- Australian Government through the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities
- The Aboriginals Benefit Account
- Granites Mine Affected Areas Aboriginal Corporation
- Warlukurlangu Artists Aboriginal Corporation
Warlukurlangu Artists is also very grateful for the support from Christine Godden who was instrumental in fundraising for this project.
Philip Jones, the author of the upcoming book on the history of the museum “A Desert Revelation: The Murals of the Yuendumu Men’s Museum” described the project:
“The Yuendumu Men’s Museum first opened in 1971 as a repository for Warlpiri art and heritage. From the very beginning this was a Warlpiri project, the first of its kind in Aboriginal Australia. The building was designed for ceremonial events, for their remarkable ground paintings, and to house important objects.
More than forty years later the Yuendumu Men’s Museum has been sensitively restored, under the direction of Warlukurlangu Artists, Cecilia Alfonso & Gloria Morales.
Senior men have decided that its extraordinary wall murals can now be seen by a wider audience. These murals represent the key Jukurrpa or Dreamings of the eight Warlpiri skin groups. The power and vigour of these paintings is astounding. They will assure the Museum of a new place in national and international art history.”
The Yuendumu Men’s Museum building was officially re-opened to the public on 6 September 2015.
The museum is open by appointment only. Entry fees apply.
Please email the art centre at firstname.lastname@example.org.