Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Data Archive

Monica Galassi - The Anthropology Museum of Padova

Italian version: Monica Galassi - Museo di Antropologia di Padova

The Padova University Museum Center offers important opportunities for gaining knowledge not only for students, but also for local people and visitors that crowd together in the city of the famous St. Antonio. Just a few steps from the Basilic, close to the beautiful Botanic Garden, the curator of the museum welcomed me and gave me the chance to keep in touch with an important and largely unknown collection. The Anthropology Museum of Padova University holds  more than 20000 objects divided in four units (the Osteotological, Palaeethnological, Ethnographic and Oriental Arts collections) that have been preserved thanks to the interests of the researchers that were engaged in the field in the second half of the 19th Century.

 The Ethnographic collection forms the most important part of the museum, with collections from Africa, Asia, Oceania and America. The most interesting part for ATSIDA, the one from the Oceania, includes various collections with a total of more than 500 objects from Australia, Melanesia (New Guinea and close archipelagos), from Polynesia (in particular from New Zealand and Samoa) and from Micronesia (Caroline Islands). In particular, the heart of the Oceania collection was born with the donation of a Priest native of Val D'Aosta, Father Giuseppe Capra (1873-1952). Father Giuseppe Capra, shared dynamic abilities as a researcher, a naturalist, explorer and geographer. Very sensitive to the immigration problems, he travelled on behalf of the Italica Gens (the federation for the assistance of immigrants) and of other associations of the Government that worked in that sector. He spoke often and with pain regarding the conditions of Aboriginal people in Australia: “The history of the English colonization is a […] spotless, an infamy for the history of the civilization; for the Aborigines the civilization sounded like degeneration, destruction, death”.

The most conspicuous part of the Anthropology Museum collections is held in the University Museum Center close to the Botanic Garden, but it will be relocate soon in a new and more spacious base still in the centre of the city. In the meantime, during the closing time, the museum contributed to several and interesting temporary exhibitions like “The Polynesian: people of the water” (2005), “A city on the water. Man and environment of the Ledro pile dwelling” (2005), “Following Marco Polo...Six hundred years later” (2006), “Hocus-Pocus: herbs, magic and rituals in the man history” (2007), “We are all naturalists: from Linneo to Darwin” (2008), “Charles Darwin” (2009), “Biodiversity: yesterday, today and tomorrow” (2010/2011).