Director appointed for National Aboriginal Art Gallery


A Senior Director to lead the delivery of the National Aboriginal Art Gallery has been appointed, Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Chansey Paech announced today.

Tracy Puklowski will take up the role on May 24.

A media release by Mr Paech says Ms Puklowski will be responsible for leading a project team of five officers with various skills across curation, engagement and project management.

She will also provide input into the design of the art gallery; develop content and programming; and engage with stakeholders in Alice Springs, and nationally, to ensure the ongoing success of the gallery, says the release.

Ms Puklowski has extensive knowledge about the arts, museum and culture sectors, demonstrated throughout her career which includes senior roles at museums, libraries and archives across New Zealand and in Australia. 

Most recently, Ms Puklowski has served as the General Manager of Creative Arts and Cultural Services at the City of Launceston, a major portfolio including directing the Queen Victoria Museum and Gallery and developing a ground-breaking cultural strategy for the City of Launceston.

Ms Puklowksi holds a Master of Arts with Honours in Art History, which included studies in Australian Art, and postgraduate qualifications in Museum Studies. In 2009, she was accepted into the highly competitive Museum Leadership Institute program run by the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles.

In a quote attributed to her, Ms Puklowski says: “The events of 2020 reminded us all of the power of art to bring communities together and provide space for healing.

“I commend the Northern Territory Government for having a vision that puts Indigenous art and knowledge at the heart of Mparntwe, and indeed the country.

“The role of arts and culture in promoting better social, cultural, economic and community outcomes, and as a force for truth telling and healing, is something very close to my heart. The opportunity to drive this project is an honour and a privilege.”


Photo at top: screen capture from the NT Government’s promotional video for the gallery project.

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Government is recruiting for the national Aboriginal art gallery


  1. Aside from the controversy that has come before about this project, it is astounding that the NT Government has overlooked the countless incredible First Nations experts in this field and have employed a white woman, who is little known in the sector and who has no background of working in this region or context.
    It really is a kick in the teeth.
    It is becoming more and more obvious each day that the fundamental underlying intention behind this project has little to do with supporting First Nations people.
    This would NEVER happen in other parts of Australia.
    As a lifelong Territorian, aside from the politics of this project, this appointment is embarrassing and shows how behind the NT is … it’s like we aren’t even trying to pretend to try anymore.

  2. @ Jon: As per the United Nations: “Traditional knowledge and traditional resources have been managed by indigenous and local communities since time immemorial, using customary law embedded in spiritual cosmology. A great deal of traditional knowledge, including customary laws and folklore, has been undermined and destroyed by colonisers and post-colonial states who imposed their own systems of law, knowledge and world views on Indigenous people.
    Today, however, there is an increasing appreciation of the value and potential of traditional knowledge.”
    Obviously not in the NT.

  3. @ Hopeful: I agree and I will never forget what an elder woman told me once: “Every time a whitefeller gets involve in our business, he/she takes over. Claiming he/she knows what right for us!

  4. @ Jon: Your response is amusing for two reasons.
    1) It demonstrates you are coming from the perspective that there aren’t any.
    2) you clearly are not familiar with this sector….where the names are literally are too many to list.
    Regardless, I’m not going to do your homework for you on this one.

  5. @ Evelyn Roulette: The management of traditional knowledge and resources does not simply transfer to running an Aboriginal art gallery.
    ORIC is kept very busy intervening in community controlled organisations run by Aboriginal managers under CATSI that have become unworkable.
    @ Hopeful: I’m sure that the NT Government would have given the director’s position to a competitive Aboriginal candidate so I assume there were none.
    I can’t think of any and have done my homework.
    I think you are bluffing and challenge you to name three of the countless incredible First Nations experts in this field (running world class art galleries).

  6. Are you three serious? Awesome display of one-upmanship, or is it personship now (who knows or cares).
    Let’s do a reality check here, nothing will have happened by the next election cycle and let’s face it, the way things are, even the numpties in Darwin won’t vote back in the shower of faecal matter that is the Territory ALP.

  7. @ Jon: Have you checked out the ORIC template rule book?
    Whenever I hear of ORIC intervening (a very apt word) I can’t help thinking there may be two sides to that story.
    I’m with Hopeful and Evelyne.

  8. @ Hopeful, Laurence, Frank Baarda, Evelyne Roullet.
    Still eagerly awaiting the names of any of the (overlooked) countless incredible First Nations experts in this field (running world class art galleries).

  9. @ Jon: If you were sincerely interested you will have easily found a few:
    • Brenda Croft, currently the curator of Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, is a distinguished artist, lecturer, writer and arts administrator.
    A member of the Northern Territory’s Gurindji Nation, 460 kilometres southwest of Katherine She is a founding member of Boomali Aboriginal Artists Co-operative in Sydney and served as its general manager from 1990-96. In 1995 she was awarded a Master of Art Administration from the College of Fine Arts, UNSW.
    • Clothilde Bullen is a Wardandi (Nyoongar) and Badimaya (Yamatji) Aboriginal woman with English/French heritage.
    She commenced as curator of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Exhibitions and Collections at the Museum of Contemporary Art in early 2017, after more than a decade as curator of Indigenous Art at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth.
    Clothilde has curated a number of shows independently including Darkness on the Edge of Town in 2016 at Artbank, Sydney, and When the Sky Fell: Legacies of the 1967 Referendum at the Perth Institute of Contemporary Art in 2017.
    Clothilde has written for a number of contemporary arts publications including Sturgeon, Art Monthly and Artlink, and was the commissioning co-editor of Artlink’s 2018 Indigenous edition.
    She is also a board member on Art Monthly Australasia magazine. Clothilde was on the Inaugural Advisory Committee for the Wesfarmers and NGA Indigenous Arts Leadership Program and is an Alumni member of the British Council Accelerate Scholarship for Indigenous Leadership in the Arts.
    She is also a member of the Museums and Histories Board for Create NSW (ongoing).
    • Keith Munro is curator, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Programs at the MCA. He is a descendant of the Kamilaroi (Gomeroi / Gamilaroi/ Gamilarray) people of north-western New South Wales and south-western Queensland, Australia.
    Some of his curatorial projects include Ripple Effect: Boomalli Founding members (2012), Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Cooperative 25th anniversary exhibition, and for the MCA Being Tiwi (2015-2017, co-curated with Senior Curator Natasha Bullock), the international touring Ricky Maynard: Portrait of a Distant Land (2008-2010), Bardayal “Lofty” Nadjamerrek AO (2010) and In the Balance: Art for a Changing World (2010).
    Keith works with MCA colleagues to oversee audience programs for both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal audiences to come together to learn, discuss and share, such as film screenings and panel discussion for NAIDOC week; community workshops and other key milestones in the Aboriginal calendar.
    • Glenn Iseger-Pilkington is a Yamatji man from the mid-west coast of WA
    and also have Noongar cultural associations.
    He has been working as a curator in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Yamatji Islander art and culture for about 15 years in major museums and art galleries. He is now taken by South Australia.

  10. @ Evelyne Roulett: You scoured the length and breath of Australia and came up with the names of a few worthy candidates working with their own mobs.
    These individuals would not consider moving to our strife torn town to work with local Aboriginal people who would consider them outsiders and interlopers.
    Do you agree with the proposition that there are countless incredible First Nations experts in this field (running world class art galleries) who could have been appointed director?

  11. @ Jon: What is the First Nations for you?
    And please stop insulting me by misspelling my surname. My name is important it carries my cultural heritage.

  12. The two leading candidates for this job – Phillip Watkins and Hetti Perkins – both Arrernte and both more than qualified – did not apply. Jon, if you had followed this project in any depth you would understand why they didn’t.
    Research, rather than racist stereotypes about our people’s qualifications might be a more productive contribution to this discussion.

  13. @ Evelyne Roullet: more importantly, what is the First Nations for the Aboriginal owners of Alice Springs or for that matter for those living remotely on their own country?
    At the risk of speaking for them, I would venture to say that, at best, it means nothing at all.
    So we could have had an “incredible First Nations expert” from Sydney as director, but with zero credibility here.
    Wisely, the NT Government avoided this trap.

  14. @ Rachel: I have been posting here to counter the accusation that the NT Government acted improperly by “overlooking the countless incredible First Nations experts in this field and have employed a white woman”.
    In fact, there were few credible candidates and the additional information you provide shows that the two leading candidates did not even apply.
    Of course, it is understandable why they didn’t but the NT Government was left with little choice but to employ a non Aboriginal director.

  15. @ Jon: So we could have had an “incredible First Nations expert” from Sydney as director, but with zero credibility here”.
    Since you appear to be in the know, could we have the names of all the candidates as we could see their credibility?
    What makes you believe that Ms Puklowski will be accepted by Aboriginal communities?
    It takes months, sometime years, before an Aborigine trusts you with their knowledge especially if the gallery is built in a very offensive place too them.
    Ms Puklowksi (with respect) has a very good portfolio, but I cannot see much about her knowledge / studies of Aborigine culture of the Anangu and Yolngu, very different of the Palawas’s.
    As per the majority especially, the old residents of Alice who are going to lose their oval, this gallery will be like the museum in Todd Mall, a white elephant, and will be responsible for the closure of all the other galleries that have been flourishing in the CBD for years.


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