Awakening: Stories from the Torres Strait

Torres Strait Islanders believe that objects are pervaded by spirits of our ancestors and the natural world. ‘Awakening’ is the act of reconnecting that stirs the spirit between the people and the object. Headdress, Dhari
Made by Wawee Tapau
Townsville (Murray Islander, Torres Strait Islander Community)

Our major exhibition showcases objects of extraordinary beauty and significance from Queensland Museum’s extensive Torres Strait collection and lights a path through life, culture and custom.   

This collection features striking ceremonial masks, hand-crafted tools of daily life and internationally recognised archaeological findings and objects collected by pioneering anthropologist A.C. Haddon, all of which link Torres Strait Islanders to the land, the sea, the song and the story of Torres Strait Islander kastom.

Objects from the celebrated collections of Te Papa Tongarewa, New Zealand’s national museum and Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology of are also featured.

Exploring a rich and diverse culture across three exhibition themes People, Place, and Purpose, Awakening will connect the essence of Torres Strait Islander stories, culture and community to a broader audience.

At the core of the exhibition Awakening will explore why and how museums collect cultural objects and stories.

The visitor will be guided to understand that objects do not stand on their own, but are enmeshed in a web of cultural meaning. Collected items that have been removed from their cultural context can only represent one part of the whole. 

Awakening will provide a unique insight to the rich culture of the Torres Strait.

An online version of the exhibition is now available at where you can see the objects up close using openzoom technology and view the object's locations on a map.

This exhibition forms part of 'The Torres Strait Islands: A Celebration', presented by Queensland’s major arts organisations at the Cultural Centre, South Bank, showcasing the diversity and vibrancy of historical and contemporary arts and culture of Torres Strait Islander Australians. Visit for more information.

Event Details

25 June 2011 - 02 October 2011
Level 2

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