Featured News A lifetime’s collection donated to JCU

Media Releases

Wed, 22 May 2019

A lifetime’s collection donated to JCU

a shell neclace

A large donation being celebrated at James Cook University in Cairns today gives insight into the lives and cultures of the people of Papua New Guinea, and in particular those of the Sepik region.

The Bragge Collection, which includes more than 600 artefacts, has been donated to the University by Cairns resident Laurie Bragge. A selection of items from the collection is being exhibited in the JCU library, and in The Cairns Institute.

Mr Bragge worked and lived in Papua New Guinea for more than 45 years, after taking up a job with the Australian administration as a Patrol Officer (also known as a Kiap) in 1961.

In his time in Papua New Guinea he accumulated extensive personal knowledge of PNG culture and great respect for its peoples, collecting and documenting a sizeable collection of cultural artefacts, and assembling a large personal library.

“The items we have on display are a small sample of Mr Bragge’s donation of more than 600 material culture artefacts, which range from small ceremonial objects to large architectural pieces,” JCU anthropologist Professor Rosita Henry said.

“The real strength of the collection is that it is accompanied by Laurie’s personal research library, and his own writings. The collection is informed by his passion – he has painstakingly documented it, giving detailed accounts of each item’s significance and provenance.

“We look forward to using it as a teaching resource, as well as sharing it with researchers from around the world,” Professor Henry said.

In retirement, Mr Bragge’s labour of love has been to write a multi-volume history of the Sepik, partly based on tribal histories bequeathed to him by Sepik Elders.

JCU’s Director of Library and Information Services Helen Hooper said this is an important and welcome donation, given Far North Queensland’s close relationship with Papua New Guinea, as well as JCU’s own close connections with scholars in PNG.

“We’re pleased to become the guardians of Laurie Bragge’s library, which is intimately connected to the material cultural artefacts. The JCU Library now begins a significant journey with these materials, in order to make all parts of the collection accessible in the future,” she said.

Mr Bragge’s collection of artefacts will be housed at The Cairns Institute on the JCU campus, while his personal library will become part of the University Library’s Special Collections.

Selected items from the Bragge Collection will be on show at the JCU Library and The Cairns Institute at the JCU campus in Smithfield from today until Friday 28 June. It is open to the public and admission is free.


Media enquiries: linden.woodward@jcu.edu.au