Yawuru Voices in the New Museum

Article | Updated 3 months ago

The WA Museum and Nyamba Buru Yawuru (NBY) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), outlining a commitment to engage with Aboriginal peoples from Broome, and identify ways local stories could be shared in the New Museum.

Three people at a boardroom table smile for the camera while one signs a documen
Peter Yu (left), Debra Pigram (middle) of NBY and WA Musuem CEO Alec Coles (right)
Image courtesy WA Museum

The Yawuru people are the Traditional Owners of the lands and seas in and around Broome. They have a long standing relationship with the WA Museum. Our two organisations collaborated on the award winning exhibition Lustre: Pearling and Australia, which is touring nationally.

NBY Chair, Debra Pigram and Chief Executive Officer, Peter Yu visited Perth with NBY Chief Operating Officer, Susan Bergersen and Director of the NBY board Roseanne Healy to sign the agreement with the Museum. They discussed opportunities for knowledge sharing and collaboration on future projects in the Kimberley and Yawuru stories that could be shared in the New Museum.

Some of the projects under discussion include the cultural significance of the dinosaur trackways that occur on Yawuru Country, cultural representations of the ‘Six Seasons’, seasonal and environmental influences that affect people in the Kimberley, and the concept of health and wellbeing – called liyan in Yawuru.

Liyan is the term we use to explain our feelings and our sense of being, we hold it inside us but it gets expressed through our words and behaviour. Good liyan comes from our connection to our Country and being in our Country. It underpins our attitudes to our way of life and respect for ancestors; it is reflected in our sense of belonging to Yawuru society. Good liyan expresses our emotional strength, dignity and pride – our wellbeing.


We look forward to engaging with NBY and the broader Yawuru community over the next few years to share stories in the New Museum.

Lustre on tour

Lustre: Pearling and Australia is a beautiful touring exhibition developed under the cultural direction of Yawuru Elders. Community members Bart Pigram and Maya Shioji contributed to the project through the Museum’s emerging curators program.

This stunning exhibition shares stories about northern Australia's unique pearling tradition and is now on display at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra until 22 July 2018.