World First Immersive Indigenous Experience Opens in Canberra

Grande partners with the National Museum of Australia in a new digital experience.

A unique Indigenous cultural event taking visitors on a journey through land, water and sky Country opens at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra on Wednesday 8 June. Connection: Songlines from Australia’s First Peoples in a spectacular immersive experience brings to life the stories, art, and culture of Australia’s First Peoples through multi-sensory projections and dynamic immersion.

A breathtaking production, Connection uses cutting-edge visual, audio and aroma technologies to transform original artworks from First Nations artists – including Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Albert Namatjira, Tommy Watson, Gabriella Possum, Anna Pitjara and Lin Onus – into a powerfully rich and interactive celebration of Country, culture, and community. The artistic line-up represents the wonderful diversity of Australia’s First Nations Peoples, showcasing work from emerging and established artists, mainly from remote regions, and featuring a magnificent soundtrack by Indigenous musicians including William Barton, Yothu Yindi, Gurrumul, Emily Wurramarra and Archie Roach.

Earnings from Connection will go towards enhancing and expanding Indigenous programs at the National Museum.

Margo Ngawa Neale, the National Museum’s lead Indigenous curator and a consulting curator on Connection, said, “The Museum is known for exploring and sharing First Peoples’ stories globally, for increasing accessibility and for bringing our stories alive. There can be no better way to bring our songlines stories alive than through this awe-inspiring multi-sensory display of Connection. This is the 21st century and younger demographics inhabit the digital domain. If we want to expose them to Aboriginal art and culture, we need to meet with them there,” she says. “Spectacles like this do not replace static exhibitions but complement them and attract a broader spectrum of people who may not otherwise visit galleries and museums. Multi-sensory experiences like this allow us to stage the exhibition in more places, more often and for Indigenous culture to get more exposure all around the world,” Ms Neale said.

Bruce Peterson, founder and CEO of Grande Experiences, said, “Visitors will enjoy the unique opportunity to submerge themselves in the art, history, spirit, and vibrancy of Australia’s First Nations culture. We could not be more excited and prouder to hold the world premiere at the National Museum of Australia to bring an exclusive experience of this kind to the nation’s capital.”

John-Paul Janke, deputy chair of the National Museum’s Indigenous Reference Group (IRG) said, “the National Museum of Australia’s Indigenous Reference Group have strongly supported Connection.”

“This experience is a notable example of an exciting conjunction between First Nations’ culture and communities and contemporary digital storytelling. This show enables the Museum to share our stories with wider audiences in a new and innovative way.” Alison Page, designer, film producer and member of the National Museum’s IRG said, “As a partner, the Museum sees itself as continuing its pioneering role with this ambitious world-first experience that takes our artists and culture to audiences across the world.”

Connection was curated by the team at Grande Experiences along with Aboriginal arts specialist Adam Knight, Indigenous photographic artist Wayne Quilliam and supported by a curatorial advisory panel and leaders in the arts including the National Museum’s lead Indigenous curator and academic Margo Neale, producer, director and arts executive Rhoda Roberts AO and Aboriginal designer and film producer Alison Page.

The walk-through experience immerses visitors in the spiritual connections between land, water, and sky through a vibrant and multi-sensory symphony of sound, light, colour and aromas. Grande Experiences’ state-of-the-art technology will be used to create an interactive exhibition space that will envelop visitors in large-scale, immersive projections and cinematic surround sound. The artistic line-up of more than 500 images and 25 musical tracks from some 100 artists featured in Connection represents the diversity of Australia’s First Peoples showcasing images mostly from remote, working in traditional and contemporary art forms across the country. This experience honours the vital contribution that First Nation artists, cultural custodians and knowledge holders make to Australia’s arts and cultural landscape.

Artworks drawn from the National Museum’s collection feature as digital projections in the new experience, alongside artworks from other public, private, and corporate collections.

For more on Connection and tickets

This digital spectacular opens on 8 June 2022 for a limited season at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra.
The experience will be presented in the Museum’s spacious Temporary gallery and abide by all government Covid-19 protocols.

The creation of Connection: Songlines from Australia’s First Peoples in a spectacular immersive experience is supported through the Restart Investment to Sustain and Expand (RISE) Fund – an Australian Government initiative.