Inside the next phase of the Foundation's journey

In 2023, the Foundation for the WA Museum has entered the next phase in its approach to supporting high impact initiatives at the Museum. The Foundation’s CEO, Coralie Bishop, says this marks the beginning of new, ambitious plans. 

In the for-purpose sector, endowment funds are increasingly popular as a means of establishing future-focused funding streams and reducing reliance on short-term and volatile funding sources. Endowment funds are secured in perpetuity, and aim to provide long-term capital growth, as well as recurrent income streams. 

Until 2023, the Foundation for the WA Museum concentrated on building the principal of its endowment fund, the Discovery Endowment Fund. With the Discovery Endowment Fund at $30 million in funds under management, a significant grant can now be distributed to the WA Museum each year. 

Earlier in the year, the Foundation’s Board approved a Grant Distribution Policy, which paved the way for a significant, annual financial grant to be issued to the WA Museum going forward. 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. 

The inaugural annual 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. This is the biggest ever grant from the Foundation, for one of the most significant acquisitions in the Museum’s history. 

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 over 130 individual items - canvas paintings, painted wooden boards, dance boards, limited edition prints, artefacts and cultural objects, hats worn by a number of the artists, as well as archival material encompassing video recordings, still photographs and negatives. Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie and Freddie Timms are amongst the notable artists featured in the collection. 

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."

Alec Coles OBE, CEO of the Western Australian Museum

Coralie Bishop, the CEO of the Foundation for the WA Museum stated, “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.” 

The Foundation will continue to focus on building endowment capital and securing further funding support. “We look forward to continuing to raise funds in order to enhance the Museum’s cultural, social and scientific impact into the future. The annual grants will allow us to showcase the type of high impact WA Museum initiatives we are supporting, and demonstrate the difference we are making not just for future years, but right now.”