Tom Mosby (Torres Strait Islander) is Chief Executive Officer of the Koorie Heritage Trust, Melbourne. Beginning his career as an art conservator with the Art Gallery of Western Australia and later with the National Gallery of Victoria, in 1998 Tom curated the highly- acclaimed Ilan Pasin (this is our way), Australia’s first major survey of Torres Strait Islander art. Tom returns to 3KND to yarn about KHT taking over the Yarra Building in Fed Square…so tune in after 8am this morning.
Practising as a lawyer for 10 years, including Senior Associate roles in Melbourne and Brisbane, Tom returned to the cultural sector in 2009 as Executive Manager, Indigenous Research and Projects, with the State Library of Queensland.
Tom is currently chair of the Board of Directors of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair. The Koorie Heritage Trust (KHT) is delighted to announce that from August 2023 it will take up all three floors of the Yarra Building at Fed Square to create a stand-alone First Nations arts and cultural centre in the building – a first of its kind in an Australian capital city.
The Koorie Heritage Trust was established in 1985 by Ron Merkel QC, the late Ron Castan AM QC and a respected Koorie elder with a commitment to protect, preserve and promote the living culture of the Aboriginal people of south-eastern Australia.
The Trust emerged from a need for greater awareness, understanding and appreciation of Koorie culture throughout the community, and the immediate need for Koorie cultural heritage material to be controlled, managed and curated by Koorie people. Since then, the Trust’s activities and programs have expanded and include: • addressing a need in the community for the collection and preservation of Koorie oral histories for future generations • a family history service that connects members of the Stolen Generations and their descendants to family, culture and community • expanding the collection of Koorie art and artefacts that reflect the historical and contemporary artistic practices of south-eastern Australia • exhibition programs with a particular focus on showcasing new and emerging artists; cultural education programs and activities • a retail outlet for the creative art and design expression of our Koorie Community.
This is a significant announcement for First Peoples of South East Australia. An expanded footprint in the heart of the Melbourne Arts Precinct recognises the importance of First Nations peoples, culture and community as central to Naarm as a modern contemporary city.
Internal building works will commence April 2023 with an estimated 17-week construction schedule. KHT expects minimal disruption to its programs and services during this time, so visitors can continue to meet, enjoy and learn about the First Peoples of Victoria. From 1145 sq metres, KHT will expand its offerings to 1740 square metres. This expansion will introduce new exhibition galleries, community engagement and education spaces, and an expanded retail experience, amongst others, that will enable KHT to grow its programs.
KHT has worked extensively with First Nations architect Jefa Greenaway of Greenaway Architects, in association with Lyons and Architecture Associates to develop a considered and beautiful plan for the building interior design and fit-out reflecting country and place that responds in a culturally sensitive way to both organisational and First Nations community needs and values.
KHT’s First Peoples First ethos will see the project not only being led by a First Nations architecture firm, but also employ First Nations builders and designers.
‘Prior to this, our part occupation of the Yarra Building interrupted the visitor experience and at times, compromised the programs we were able to offer. Our expansion means we are able to offer a more integrated experience for our many national and international visitors in a building that not only reflects our internal needs and ambitions but will better showcase more of our permanent collection, increase the size and scale of our annual temporary exhibition program, and offer more flexible public spaces,’ says Tom Mosby, CEO, KHT.
Melbourne Arts Precinct’s CEO and Director Katrina Sedgwick OAM shared the organisation’s support of the growth of Koorie Heritage Trust. ‘The Koorie Heritage Trust moved to Fed Square over seven years ago now and plays a pivotal role in the city as one of Narrm’s leading cultural institutions. Next to the Birrarung, the Koorie Heritage Trust is a place of gathering, discovery and celebration of Koorie peoples, culture and creativity, and a welcoming centre for education for all Victorians. We’re committed to supporting the KHT and are thrilled to see it expanding its gallery spaces to be able to present more significant collections and works by Koorie artists,’ said Katrina Sedgwick.
KHT provides opportunities for all people to connect through its wide-reaching programs – public and school walking tours, Building Aboriginal Cultural Competency workshops, Family History Services, exhibitions and public programs.
KHT is also a champion of Blak Design. Its ground-breaking Blak Design program is the continuation of a series of projects and discourse the KHT has delivered since 2014, exploring Australian contemporary First Nations design. These projects aim to promote First Nations design principles and best practice methodologies and theories to the broader design community while supporting and mentoring First Nations designers. As part of the expansion, KHT will engage with First Nations designers, crafts people, and businesses as part of the KHT’s “First Peoples First” procurement strategy.
KHT’s expansion has been made possible with the generous support of the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation, (ILSC); the Aboriginal Community Infrastructure Program, (ACIP); and MAP Co.
The Koorie Heritage Trust was established in 1985. It is a not-for-profit arts and cultural organization that is Aboriginal owned and managed and is the only organisation of its kind located in a major Australian capital city.
With the largest collection of Koorie art and artefacts in Australia, KHT promotes and supports the diversity of First Peoples of South East Australia and celebrates the strong and continuing living culture grounded in a 60,000-year-old history.
Koorie Heritage Trust, Yarra Building, Fed Square. Open daily, 10am – 5pm. www.koorieheritagetrust.com.au