Foundation for the WA Museum makes biggest ever grant to WA Museum

26 Oct 2023

The Foundation for the WA Museum has launched a large-scale grant program for the benefit of the Western Australian Museum, and made its first major annual grant to the Museum for a key acquisition. 

The grant funding was allocated to the significant acquisition of the majority of the Red Rock Art Collection and Archive and five other projects, including four Minderoo Grants. The total annual grant amount distributed to the WA Museum as part of the new grant distribution program in the financial year 2022/23 is $555,000. 

The Red Rock Art Collection and Archive was created between the 1990s and 2000s by Kevin and Jenny Kelly in Kununurra. The collection reflects their strong, personal interactions and work with East Kimberley Aboriginal artists during this period. Many of the artists represented were pivotal to the establishment of East Kimberley art practice that emerged from the region in the 1970s and 1980s. 

The Museum’s acquisition includes 31 individual canvas paintings and 12 painted wooden boards; 54 limited edition prints; 21 artefacts and cultural objects as well as 5 dance boards; 9 hats worn by a number of the artists; as well as a range of archival items including video recordings, still photographs and negatives (of artists, communities, exhibitions, documented works of art, and people). Notable artists featured in the collection include Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie, Jack Britten, Peggy Griffiths, Paddy Carlton, Sonia Kurarra, Jock Mosquito, Freddie Timms, Eubena Nampitjin and Billy Thomas. 

Alec Coles OBE, CEO of the Western Australian Museum, explained “The Red Rock Art Collection and Archive is imbued with immense cultural and spiritual significance, and is of major historical and artistic importance. It forms a rare and unique record of an art movement, and of artists and art related events in the East Kimberley at the turn of the 21st century, and is highly representative of the art practices of the region.” 

“This is one of the most significant acquisitions in the Museum’s history. The collection will become a centrepiece of the Museum’s First Peoples collection and a valuable resource for public programs, research and community engagement. I cannot thank the Foundation enough for its generous support.” 

“The Red Rock Art Collection and Archive represent the landscapes and cultures of the far northern part of our State and reflect the WA Museum’s commitment to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples. The collection and archive and will provide future display, outreach and research opportunities, and will generate new interest in our collection and exhibition activities.” 

Since the establishment of the Foundation for the WA Museum as an independent not-for-profit entity in 2017, the Foundation concentrated on building the principal of its endowment fund, the Discovery Endowment Fund. 

While the Foundation continues to focus on building endowment capital and securing further funding support, the Discovery Endowment Fund has grown to $30 million in funds under management and is now at a stage where a significant grant can be distributed to the WA Museum each year. 

The Foundation’s Board approved the Foundation’s Grant Distribution Policy, which paves the way for a significant, annual financial grant to be issued to the WA Museum from now onwards. The WA Museum allocates the Foundation’s annual grant based on the Museum’s strategic priorities and the cultural, scientific or social impact of the funded initiative. 

Coralie Bishop, the CEO of the Foundation for the WA Museum stated, “The Foundation’s purpose is to enhance the cultural, scientific and social impact of the WA Museum. We are proud to be supporting a WA Museum acquisition of such national and international significance, and look forward to seeing the Red Rock Collection and Archive become part of the Museum’s research and community engagement activities.” 

“This milestone could not have been achieved without the support of the Foundation’s Founding Partners for the Discovery Endowment Fund. We are grateful for the visionary leadership that the Founding Partners – Minderoo Foundation, Rio Tinto, Stan Perron Charitable Foundation, Tianqi Lithium, Wesfarmers and Woodside Energy – have demonstrated through their support.” 

“We look forward to continuing to raise funds in order to enhance the Museum’s cultural, social and scientific impact into the future and be able to fund high impact initiatives now and into the future.”

Header image: Queenie McKenzie, Ord River, Horseman Creeek and Neermeroni - The Rain Maker, 1998 (detail)