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Aboriginal art had a restricted presence in Australian museums in the first half of the twentieth century.
The third collection was a negotiated gift in 1993 of an important older collection formed originally in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s.
 These collections were acquired across a decade (1984–1993) in which Indigenous art became most concentrated area within the MCA-Power Bequest’s total international collection.
The contribution of anthropology to the historical documentation and understanding of Indigenous people is unquestionable.
There should be no underestimation of the density of the anthropological archive, the extent of its ongoing influence in recuperative knowledge, or the interpretative richness of its resources available for diverse applications.Such divisions are maintained only at considerable cost to Indigenous cultural aspirations to be ‘viewed whole’: as part of a continuing cultural history and comprehensive story of adaptive evolution across a huge land and islands over centuries.Continued institutional segregation distorts the historical record of more than a half-century.Meanwhile, a younger generation is developing new capacities, and their work will play a decisive role in future years.In the 1980s and 1990s the state galleries intensified their attention to Indigenous art and took affirmative steps to increase its presence and profile in their institutional development.Australia’s state and national galleries have been acquiring Indigenous art purposively since the 1950s.They have established staffing structures and programs providing permanent attention to Indigenous art as a central aspect of their institutional mission; meanwhile the largest institutions have developed dedicated curatorial departments supporting specialised collections and exhibitions. The transformational changes of the later twentieth century could not have been imagined in the 1940s, when the small bark illustrated here  was collected on the American-American Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land (AASEAL expedition) in 1948 led by Charles Mountford. Four decades later, the situation was completely transformed.Anthropologists have also played a key role in advocacy and technical support of many Indigenous causes – especially in providing evidence of cultural continuity and historical documentation for cultural history, repatriation issues and native title claims.However in terms of , this essay takes issue with an argument that conceptually elevates anthropology’s procedures over the very different vantage points of art.