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 The transformational changes of the later twentieth century could not have been imagined in the 1940s, when the small bark illustrated here  was collected on the American-American Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land (AASEAL expedition) in 1948 led by Charles Mountford. Four decades later, the situation was completely transformed.For example, the Art Gallery of New South Wales moved dramatically to upscale its long-standing commitment to Indigenous art with the opening of the Yiribana Gallery in 1994.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) in Sydney has three complete (pre-formed) collections of Arnhem Land art commissioned or negotiated by this essay’s author.
One was composed by Djon Mundine when he was in Ramingining, and purchased over three years in 1984–1986; a second collection was formed by Diane Moon when in Maningrida and acquired in the early 1990s, but with ownership title later transferred back to Maningrida in a unique ‘cultural agreement’ with the originating community.
On one hand it was framed by scientific study and typological displays in natural history museums that could remain unchanged for decades.
 On the other hand, if Aboriginal art presented to highlight aesthetic contents, it frequently still carried a burden derived from nineteenth-century science’s interest in ‘primitive’ stages of society,  and thus was framed as ‘Primitive art’.
It highlights how the 1970s and 1980s, in particular, witnessed a series of changes that brought about new kinds of Indigenous engagement and presentation within Australia’s public galleries and museums.
Such developments could not have been accomplished within previous institutional practices.
The third collection was a negotiated gift in 1993 of an important older collection formed originally in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s.
 These collections were acquired across a decade (1984–1993) in which Indigenous art became most concentrated area within the MCA-Power Bequest’s total international collection.
In the 1980s, following rising attention in metropolitan centres and the supportive work of locally based art advisers in Indigenous communities,  some artists from the same region and broad kinship networks as those sampled by Charles Mountford’s collecting in 1948 had achieved artistic ‘careers’, been represented repeatedly in exhibitions, and had reached diverse audiences and collections in the wider world.
This chapter considers Indigenous art’s impact in Australian art museums in the last decades of the twentieth century.