Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters

The exhibition Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters tells one of the central creation stories (songlines) of the Australian continent. Songlines are cultural routes that traverse all of Australia. Through story, song and visual culture like ceremonial performance or rock art, songlines map the routes and activities of the Ancestral beings, whose travels created the land. The Seven Sisters songlines tell the saga of seven women who cleverly and cunningly elude a male pursuer with magical powers as they flee across three deserts.

The exhibition shows how the sisters’ travels are imprinted in features of the land and reflected in the night sky. The Seven Sisters songlines transmit important protocols of behavior, map Indigenous Australians’ right to their land as well as the responsibility to care for this land. Songlines carry knowledge that is critical for survival in a volatile and unpredictable desert environment, such as the location of food sources and water holes.

The exhibition is based on a unique, ten-year research and preservation project, initiated and led by representatives of Indigenous communities from the Central and Western Deserts in partnership with the National Museum of Australia and the Australian National University.

In over 300 paintings and objects, six large installations, numerous films, photographs and multimedia stations, the story of the Seven Sisters comes alive.

One of the exhibition’s highlights is a multimedia dome, inviting the visitors on a cinematic and immersive journey to important Seven Sisters sites.