More Than An Art Collection

Cameron McCarthy, demonstrates traditional dance and didjeridu at Kluge Ruhe, University of Virginia, July 11, 2014

Indigenous dancers from NAISDA Dance College pose with their audience at McGuffey Art Center.

Culture Couture Fashion Performance. Photo by Tom Cogill.

Oceans of Exchange symposium. Left to right: Julie Adams of the British Museum, Christine DeLisle of the Univeresity of Minnesota,, Maia Nuku of The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Judy Watson at TedX.

Graduate students listen attentively at a Kluge-Ruhe symposium.

Comedian, filmmaker and TV professional Angelina Hurley gives a talk.

Howard Morphy gives a lecture at Morven.

Margo Neale discusses the art of Emily Kame Kngwarreye.

Artist and activist Richard Bell presents a talk.

Families play in the KIds Zone at Night at the Museum.

Night at the Museum.

Bush bread and Australian honey is served as part of a NAIDOC Week celebration.

The filmmakers of "Heaven's Floor" discuss the film at the Virginia Film Festival.

William Barton, plays didjeridu with Charlottesville HS Orchestra.

While the visual arts are our primary focus, our dynamic programming spans a broad range of interests, from racial and social justice to Cville’s local music scene, and from fashion and film to the future of Indigenous studies.

Our collection focuses on Indigenous Australia, but our community programs connect Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in a variety of ways.

To learn about programs happening in the near future, check out our calendar.

Night at the Museum

Note: Night at the Museum was cancelled in the summers of 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19. We hope to resume Night at the Museum in the summer of 2022!

Night at the Museum is a lively, family-friendly opportunity to enjoy the museum and its grounds after hours. On the third Thursday of June, July and August, we host a local band in our picturesque backyard with sunset views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Food trucks sell a variety of tasty eats, local craft beer and cider is available, and a local vineyard showcases their wine. The event also features a Kid’s Zone with Australian-themed children’s activities, as well as a Flat Chat Tour, a ten-minute discussion about an artwork on view by a museum staff member or docent. This event is free for museum members and $5 for non-members. Visitors are encouraged to bring foldable chairs or blankets for picnicking; dogs are only permitted outside of the museum on a leash. Only service animals are allowed indoors in the public spaces of the museum.

A Celebration of Contributions and Culture

NAIDOC Week is an annual celebration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander contributions and achievements. NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) started as a Day of Mourning in 1938 to remember the invasion of Australia by British Captain James Cook in 1770 and officially became a public Australian holiday in 1984. Each year the NAIDOC Committee chooses a theme; the theme for 2018 is “Because of her, we can!”—focusing on the invaluable contributions of Indigenous women.

NAIDOC Week is usually the first or second week of July. We typically offer a family-friendly community program on the Saturday of NAIDOC Week.

Indigenous Australia in Academia

Each year, we aim to bring more than 25 leading artists and traditional knowledge holders, scholars and museum professionals to the museum for research and public programs.

Our resident artists provide an overview of their artistic career in an artist talk, typically offered on Thursday nights at the museum in the fall and spring. Lunchtime talks happen throughout the year at the museum and are open to museum members only; to become a member, click here.

Lectures and symposia typically occur in the fall and spring, and take place on UVA Grounds on a wide variety of topics pertaining to Indigenous Australian art and culture and its intersection with other disciplines.

Going Behind the Scenes

Every spring, a museum staff member leads at least one course for adults through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at the University of Virginia. OLLI offers a variety of educational opportunities and intellectual enrichment to active adults in the community. Indigenous artists sometimes guest-lecture as part of the courses we offer. Topics in the past have included Australian Aboriginal Art and Culture, Australian Aboriginal History, Art and Culture of the Central Desert, Australian Aboriginal Photography, and Behind-the-Scenes at the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection. Click here to see OLLI’s current offerings.

Exploring Beyond the Visual Arts

From time to time the museum is able to offer exceptional, large-scale programming. Here are eight examples from the last several years:

  1. ARTinstead: We presented a day of activities highlighting the ability of art to address issues of race and social justice, featuring specifically the voices of local African American artist Frank Walker, Native American artist Gerald Cournoyer, Indian American artist Madhavi Reddi, and leading Indigenous Australian artist Tony Albert.
  2. Culture Couture: We showcased the latest in Indigenous Australian textiles and fashion alongside student fashion designs in a fashion performance at Charlottesville’s Jefferson Theater.
  3. Dance Showcase: We presented a showcase of Indigenous dancers from NAISDA Dance College.
  4. First Nations Writers: We hosted five of Australia’s leading Indigenous authors in conversation with two Native American authors for a compelling reading of their recent works.
  5. TEDx: We brought Indigenous Australian artist Judy Watson to discuss her suite of etchings, experimental beds, at TEDx Charlottesville.
  6. Virginia Film Festival: We bring films made by Indigenous people and Indigenous filmmakers from around the world to the festival whenever possible.
  7. William Barton: We brought Australia’s leading didjeridu player, William Barton, and his mother Delmae Barton, for a series of compelling performances, including one in collaboration with the Charlottesville High School Symphony Orchestra.

To learn more about these and other special programs, explore our Collaboration Archive.