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The Margaret Kartomi Gallery of Musical Instruments and Artefacts at Monash Uni

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      Rohan Iyer

      (Article by Danielle Smelter, with photos of 3 of the 7 cabinets in the current Exhibition)

      The Margaret Kartomi Gallery of Musical Instruments and Artefacts at Monash University.

      The newly established Margaret Kartomi Gallery of Musical Instruments and Artefacts is now open free to the general public. It is situated within the foyer of the Performing Arts Centre/Building 68 next to the Robert Blackwood Hall at Monash University’s Clayton Campus, with metre parking available nearby.

      The Gallery’s inaugural exhibition Rare Treasures of Indonesia celebrates its namesake’s enduring research focus on the music and cultures of Indonesia. Visitors can view cultural objects from Central Java, West Java, Lampung, North Sumatra, Aceh, the Riau Islands and Papua (the Gamelan Digul).

      Celebrated ethnomusicologist Margaret Kartomi AM, FAHA, is founding Director of the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU). The Archive has been collecting rare cultural objects since 1975 and includes a number of bequests and donations from famous collectors, artists and authors. Margaret joined Monash University’s School of Music in 1969 where she worked, including as Head of Department throughout the 1990s, until 2020. She is currently Monash’s Professor Emerita in the Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and Performance.

      You are warmly invited to visit the Gallery and discover a selection of MAMU’s rare music recordings, musical instruments, theatrical puppets and masks, images, costumes, and textiles collected by the Kartomi family in Indonesia. A series of documentaries and audio-visual samples throughout the Gallery explore these artefacts further and are accessible by you on your phone or tablet via QR code. Objects from other donors and researchers tell the story of how MAMU’s collection was formed and its significance today.

      The gallery is open to visitors free of charge from 9.00am-5.00pm on Mondays-Friday.

      The Performing Arts Centre is the red building located next to the Robert Blackwood Hall, with metre parking available nearby.

      In summary:



      Ground Floor Foyer, Performing Arts Centre, Building 68,55 Scenic Boulevard, Monash University, Clayton 3800

      OPENING HOURS: Monday-Friday, 9.00am-5.00pm

      ABOUT THE GALLERY The Gallery is the public face of the Music Archive of Monash University (MAMU), which is hosted by Monash’s Sir Zelman Cowen School of Music and Performance. Managed by a dedicated team of volunteers and housed in the Menzies Building/Building 11, MAMU contains some of the finest and rarest collections of the world’s sound and material arts. Its collections and bequests focus mainly on the arts of Southeast and South Asia, the Asia-Pacific, Australia, Baghdadi and Ashkenazy Jewry, and Europe.


      The Gamelan Digul

      Browse this unparalleled ensemble of gamelan instruments built from any materials at hand by Indonesian anti-colonialists in the Boven Digul Dutch prison camp in 1926.


      Rare Treasures of Indonesia

      CONTACT US for a guided tour of the Exhibition:

      Kerryn.Morey@monash.edu, t. 03 9905 5519, 0405 087 620



      Picture Captions:

      The Sundanese people of West Java are known for their amusing, even raucous songs accompanied by bamboo angklung and calung ensembles (shown in the cabinet), and their rod-puppet theatre wayang golek, performed by a master-puppeteer (dalang) who tells stories all night about aristocrats, demons, and clowns (representing the common people).

      A selection of musical instruments from Lampung’s traditional ensemble talo balak; a gamelan xylophone, a sample of Lampung’s famous woven shipcloths (kain kapal) depicting voyages of the souls of the ancestors, and a model dressed in tanggai (long finger nail) dancer costume.

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