Six fellows join National Museum for 2024 Encounters Fellowship Program

National Museum Australia Encounters Fellows 2024Six Indigenous cultural workers will embark on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at leading cultural institutions in Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom, as part of the National Museum of Australia’s Encounters Fellowship Program for 2024.

The 2024 Fellows are Natalie Davey (Western Australia), David Doyle (New South Wales), Jamie Hampton (Central Australia), Samara King  (Western Australia), Nerelle Nicol (Queensland) and Sammi Snedden (New South Wales).

National Museum director Katherine McMahon said the Program has enduring benefits for both the institutions and the individuals involved. “Institutions have much to learn from Indigenous custodians who can bring new information to light, including the cultural care and representation of their cultural material,” said Ms McMahon.

“The Fellowship Program is founded on ‘two-way’ learning and exchange, with opportunities for museum and cultural sector professionals to learn from the fellows. For the fellows, access to the resources and collections of partner institutions, both nationally and internationally, will provide invaluable insights into the cultures of First Nations peoples globally.”

“We hope they will bring their learnings from the Program back to their own communities, workplaces and projects, to teach others and become leaders in their fields,” said Ms McMahon.

The Encounters Fellowship Program provides participants with an opportunity to explore First Nations museum collections and the role they have in revealing the past and shaping the future, especially for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

The Fellowships build on the experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practitioners by providing opportunities to work with cultural institutions to develop their skills, experience and networks within the cultural sector.

Encounters Fellowship Manager Shona Coyne said one of the aims of the Program is to help participants develop advanced skills in collections, capabilities and connections. “Fellows will be able to contribute to important conversations, in Australia and internationally, about how cultural institutions collaborate with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and collections,” said Ms Coyne.

“Through placements at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra and international partner cultural institutions the fellows will strengthen their professional networks, museum practice and leadership skills,” Ms Coyne said.

The recipients’ journey will begin in April with an orientation at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra. The intensive program will include a trip to New Zealand to Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand in Wellington, with a particular focus on First Nations-led cultural work and programs.

They will later travel to the United Kingdom to visit leading cultural and collecting institutions where they will conduct research, participate in workshops, undertake individual placements and build networks.

The 12-week Fellowship Program offers an opportunity to build competencies in a range of activities and skills relevant to working in the cultural sector.

The fellows will work alongside museum, gallery and cultural sector specialists, gaining behind-the-scenes experience in areas such as collections research and preservation, exhibition planning, digital storytelling, educational programming, Indigenous design thinking, and project management. They will be paid a stipend and receive an allowance for associated travel costs.

This is the third iteration of the Program, made possible through the generosity of supporting partners and the Australian Government. The first Encounters Fellowship Program ran in 2016.

The National Museum developed the Encounters Fellowship Program following recommendations from extensive community consultation conducted for the 2015–2016 Encounters exhibition, featuring rare Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum.

For more information about the Encounters Fellowship and the 2024 Fellows, visit: for details.

Image: David Doyle, Sammi Snedden, Nerelle Nicol, Samara King, Natalie Davey and Jamie Hampton (supplied)