Prof Gaye Sculthorpe



Research Professor


Faculty of Arts and Education


Alfred Deakin Institute


Melbourne Burwood Campus


Biography summary

Gaye is a palawa woman from Tasmania with qualifications in history and anthropology (Australian National University) and Museum Studies (University of Sydney). As a mature age student she completed a PhD at La Trobe University in the Area of Aboriginal Studies, School of Archaeology. Her thesis focused on change and innovation in wood carving (punu) in the central and western deserts of Australia. 

Over her museum career, Gaye has worked in local, state, national and international museums: Burke Memorial Museum, Beechworth; Museums Victoria, Melbourne, National Museum of Australia, Canberra; and the British Museum (2013-2022) where she was curator and section head of Oceania, in the Department of the Africa, Oceania and the Americas. For almost ten years she worked as a Member of the National Native Title Tribunal, before moving to work in London. 

In August 2022, she took up the position of Research Professor, Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies, in the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University. 



Museum Ethnographers Group UK

Museums Australia 

Knowledge areas

Aboriginal material culture

Repatriation issues and practice

Interpretation of difficult histories

Provenance research

Museums and communities


Keynote speaker, 'Return: Reconnecting objects and collections iwth people and places', ANU and Museum of the Riverina, Wagga Wagga, June 2023 ('Finding your Ancestors' objects in Britain')

Keynote speaker, AIATSIS Summit, Perth, June 2023 ('Aboriginal museum collections in a changing world: where to from here?')

Invited speaker, Belonging Series, Chau Chau Wing Museum, August 2022 ('Being Collected: Aboriginal Objects in the British Museum')

Keynote speaker, AMAGA Annual Conference, Perth, June 2022 ('Listening locally, acting globally: reflections from London')

Professional activities

Deputy President, International Cultural Property Society


2022 Global Impact Award, Global Australians Awards

2017 ANU Indigenous Alumnus of the Year


Mobilising Aboriginal Objects in International Museums ARC Discovery Project  2020-2023 DP20000102212, led by Assoc. Professor Maria Nugent (ANU, the British Museum, MAA Cambridge)

Collecting the West ARC Linkage Project 2016-2022 LP160100078) led by Professors Andrea Witcomb (Deakin University) and Alistair Paterson (University of Western Australia)

The Relational Museum and its Objects (ANU, National Museum of Australia, the British Museum, Wagga Wagga City Council) ARC Linkage Project 2016-2023 LP150100423


Filter by


The New Protectionism: Risk Aversion and Access to Indigenous Heritage Records

Gaye Sculthorpe, Gaye Sculthorpe, Michael Aird, Michael Aird, Nick Thieberger, Nick Thieberger, Amanda Harris, Amanda Harris, Jason Gibson, Jason Gibson, Marcia Langton, Marcia Langton, Clint Bracknell, Clint Bracknell, Jane Simpson, Jane Simpson

(2024), pp. 1-19, Archives and Manuscripts, C1

journal article

Will my boomerang come back? New insights into Aboriginal material culture of early Sydney and affiliated coastal zone from British collections

Gaye Sculthorpe, Daniel Simpson

(2023), Vol. 89, pp. 149-171, Australian Archaeology, London, Eng., C1

journal article

Towards 2026: Ideas for objects and themes for exhibition on Menang Country, Museum of the Great Southern, Albany, Western Australia

Tiffany Shellam, Gaye Sculthorpe

(2023), pp. 1-44, Towards 2026: Ideas for objects and themes for exhibitions on Menang Country, Museum of the Great Southern, Albany, Western Australia, Geelong, VIC., A6

research report/technical paper

Ancestors, Artefacts, Empire: Indigenous Australia in British and Irish Museums

Gaye Sculthorpe, Maria Nugent, Howard Morphy

(2021), London, Eng., A1


A Shield Loaded with History: Encounters, Objects and Exhibitions

Maria Nugent, Gaye Sculthorpe

(2018), Vol. 49, pp. 28-43, Australian Historical Studies, London, Eng., C1

journal article

A corroboree for the Countess of Kintore: Enlivening histories through objects

Gaye Sculthorpe

(2018), Vol. 42, pp. 55-71, Aboriginal History Journal, Canberra, A.C.T, C1

journal article

Same objects, different stories: exihbiting Indigenous Australia

Gaye Sculthorpe

(2017), pp. 79-103, Journal of Museum Ethnography, Hull, Eng., C1

journal article

Yurlmun. Mokare Mia Boodja 'Returning to Mokare's Home Country'. Encounters and Collections in Menang Country

Gaye Sculthorpe

(2017), Perth, W.A., A7

edited book

Funded Projects at Deakin

Australian Competitive Grants

The Great Exhibitions and their Lost Indigenous Objects

Prof Gaye Sculthorpe, Prof Nicholas Thomas, Mr Michael Aird, Prof Penny Edmonds, Dr Maria Nugent, Dr Jilda Andrews, Ms Zoe Rimmer, Dr Stephanie Leclerc-Caffarel

ARC Discovery Indigenous

  • 2024: $107,487


No completed student supervisions to report