Dr Diana Young

Senior Lecturer in Museum Anth

School of Social Science
Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
+61 7 336 51210


I am a social anthropologist specialising in visual, material and digital culture both inside and outside museums. I have substantial senior leadership experience as the Director of the University of Queensland Anthropology Museum. I am currently the Director of the Museum Masters Program at UQ.

My research is on material and visual culture. I have worked since 1997 with Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara and other Aboriginal people in central Australia. I have expertise on Pasifika art. my work is on the role of colour, especially in colonial contexts, consumer goods and value creation. My recent ARC Discovery (2013-2016) concerns the relationship of money, art markets, consumption practices and art making. Other published research is on re-inventing ethnographic museums for the 21st century, Aboriginal art histories, the senses, design, landscapes and environment, place creation and images. I welcome students for higher degree research supervision in any of these subject areas.

I am expert at successfully profiling academic research for public engagement.

I was Director of the University of Queensland Anthropology Museum (UQAM) for 8 years under two contracts, from July 2009 to August 2017, whilst at the same time having academic teaching and research duties. I am the first woman to direct the museum. I was recruited to revive the museum’s fortunes following post-doctoral fellowships at University College London and the Australian National University. Since their launch in September 2012, until August 2017. more than 60,000 people have visited the UQAM’s new teaching, research and engagement facilities that I led the creation of.

I created a new era for the (UQAM) museum, with a new dedicated 240 m square gallery and a new global best practice collection store. I led the creation of a new online digital catalogue for the museum with innovative object imaging. I promoted a successful acquisition policy of purchasing works by named women makers to assist in the rebalancing the gender equity of the collection, and raised more than AUS$1.1 million for the Museum.

I initiated an original and innovative gallery program that included touring exhibitions and 15 collaborative exhibitions derived from research in the museum’s collection to promote inclusivity and inter-cultural understanding that promote a process of decolonising the museum.

Research Interests

  • Colour as Material, Digital and Visual Culture.
    I am influential in establishing the contemporary research of colour in anthropology. My work centres on the role of colour as a concept, and colours as substances, in social and cultural life. This research is centred on visual, digital and material culture using fieldwork and draws on linguistics, cognitive science, architecture, archaeology, ecological studies, contemporary art theory and museum collections.
  • Western Desert Art Histories
    My interest is in the development of the art histories of the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara Lands since the establishment of the mission at Ernabella (now Pukatja) in South Australia 1937. Overall this work is a contribution to reassessing Australia’s colonial history and the creativity of Aboriginal women artists who gained autonomy and an expansion of themselves through art practices. I have curated public exhibitions (1998 'Warka Iritii munu Kuwari Kutu/ Work from the past and the present 50 years of Ernabella Arts'; 2001 'Art on a string' ; 2009, 'Nyukana Baker. A Retrospective') and catalogues on this topic. This research includes fieldwork and archival study - both textual and photographic.
  • Consumption Practices in Central Australia.
    This project was funded by an ARC Discovery ( 2013-Dec 2016) which researched the neglected history of consumption after colonisation among Australian Indigenous peoples. The research based on long term fieldwork. Findings from this recently completed research are in press.
  • Public Anthropology through Curatorial practice and the future of the ethnographic museum
    This research examines the role of so-called ethnographic museums now. I have collaborated in the curation of 17 public exhibitions in many venues in Australia including at UQ. I have developed collaborative research in museums with the aim of generating innovative exhibitions, using little seen objects combined with contemporary academic theory, to engage wide audiences.

Research Impacts

As an influential curator of anthropology, I am at the forefront of object centred teaching and learning for university and school students. I directed the creation of a new research and teaching infrastructure for the UQ Anthropology Museum. See the online catalogue at http://catalogue.anthropologymuseum.uq.edu.au/ and exhibtions at http://anthropologymuseum.uq.edu.au/exhibitions/. These digital sites have been visited by people in 157 different countries globally (Google analytics June 2017).

Key Exhibitions

2016 Director of curation Solomon Islands; Re enchantment and the colonial shadow, UQ Anthropology Museum. http://www.anthropologymuseum.uq.edu.au/solomon-islands

2015 commissioned Wild Australia. Meston’s Wild Australia show 1892-1893 curated by Michael Aird and Mandana Mapar, research Paul Memmott UQ Anthropology Museum; http://www.anthropologymuseum.uq.edu.au/wild-australia. Toured to Grafton Regional Gallery 2016.

2014 written on the body commissioned and co curated with Waanyi artist Judy Watson UQ Anthropology Museum; http://www.anthropologymuseum.uq.edu.au/written-on-the-body

2013 Musical Landscapes of Lihir, commissioned, developed, director of curation with Kirsty Gillespie and the Lihir Development Project, New Ireland province Papua New Guinea, UQ Anthropology Museum; http://www.anthropologymuseum.uq.edu.au/musical-landscapes-of-lihir

2012 In the red on the vibrancy of things director/curator UQ Anthropology Museum, commissioned work Fiona Foley, Miyarrka media; http://www.anthropologymuseum.uq.edu.au/in-the-red-on-the-vibrancy-of-things

2012 What do objects want? director/curator UQ Anthropology Museum; http://www.anthropologymuseum.uq.edu.au/what-do-objects-want and on line exhibtion; https://catalogue.anthropologymuseum.uq.edu.au/search/?q=what+do+objects+want.

2009 Nyukana Baker; A retrospective, curator at the Jam Factory Adelaide for SALA (South Australia Living Artists festival). Australia Council funded.

2001-2005 co curated Art on a String. Threaded objects from the Western Desert and Arnhem Land, Object centre of Australian craft and design touring show (venues included Object Gallery Sydney, Museum of Victoria, Bathurst regional gallery, NSW, Araluen cultural centre, Alice Springs, Tandanya cultural centre, Adelaide). Australia Council funded.

1998 consultant curator for Ernabella Arts Inc., ‘Warka irititja munu kwari kutu. Work from the past and the present a celebration of 50 years of Ernabella Arts,’ Tandanya Cultural Centre Adelaide


  • PhD Socio Anthropology, University College London
  • MA Anthropology of Art, University College London


  • Young, Diana (2018). Colour as the edge of the body. In Diana Young (Ed.), Rematerializing colour: from concept to substance (pp. Unknown-Unknown) Wantage, United Kingdom: Sean Kingston Publishing.

  • Young, Diana J. B. (2018). Infused with colour. In Stephanie Bunn (Ed.), Anthropology and beauty: from aesthetics to creativity (pp. 148-166) Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

  • Rematerializing colour: from concept to substance. Edited by Diana Young Wantage, United Kingdom: Sean Kingston Publishing, 2018.

View all Publications


  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

  • Doctor Philosophy

View all Supervision



Book Chapter

  • Young, Diana (2018). Colour as the edge of the body. In Diana Young (Ed.), Rematerializing colour: from concept to substance (pp. Unknown-Unknown) Wantage, United Kingdom: Sean Kingston Publishing.

  • Young, Diana J. B. (2018). Infused with colour. In Stephanie Bunn (Ed.), Anthropology and beauty: from aesthetics to creativity (pp. 148-166) Abingdon, Oxon, United Kingdom: Routledge.

  • Young, Diana (2017). Coloring Cars: customising motor vehicles in the east of the Australian Western Desert. In Alison Clarke (Ed.), Design anthropology: object cultures in transition (pp. 147-159) London, United Kingdom: Bloomsbury Publishing.

  • Young, Diana (2017). Introduction. In Solomon Islands: re-enchantment and the colonial shadow (pp. 1-7) Brisbane, Australia: Anthropology Museum, The University of Queensland.

  • Young, Diana (2017). On revealing and concealing. In Margo Neale (Ed.), Songlines: tracking the seven sisters (pp. 72-75) Canberra, ACT, Australia: National Museum of Australia Press.

  • Young, Diana (2015). Introduction. In Michael Aird, Mandana Mapar and Paul Memmott (Ed.), Wild Australia. Meston's Wild Australia 1892-93 (pp. 2-3) Brisbane, Australia: Anthropology Museum, The University of Queensland.

  • Young, Diana (2014). How did we get here?. In Diana Young (Ed.), Strong Women Strong Painting Strong Culture (pp. 7-12) St. Lucia, QLD, Australia: University of Queensland Anthropology Museum.

  • Young, Diana (2014). The domestication of things. In Diana Young (Ed.), Written on the body (pp. 1-3) St Lucia, QLD, Australia: The University of Queensland Anthropology Museum.

  • Young, Diana (2013). Hector Burton Tjupuru. My Country. In Ian Were (Ed.), NEWv: selected recent acquisitions 2011-2013 (pp. 34-35) Brisbane, Australia: UQ Art Museum.

  • Young, Diana (2012). Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjarri; rock holes and country near the Olgas’. In Ian Were (Ed.), New, v. 2: selected recent acquisitions, 2009-2011 (pp. 86-86) St Lucia, QLD, Australia: The University of Queensland Art Museum.

  • Young, Diana (2011). Colouring cars: Customising motor vehicles in the East of the Australian Western Desert. In Alison J. Clark (Ed.), Design anthropology: Object culture in the 21st century (pp. 117-129) Wien, Austria ; New York, U.S.A.: Springer.

  • Young, Diana (2010). Dingo scalping and the frontier economy in the north west of South Australia. In Ian Keen (Ed.), Indigenous participation in Australian economies (pp. 91-107) Australia: ANU E-Press.

  • Young, Diana (2010). Dressing the body in the Western Desert, Australia. In Joanne Eicher (Ed.), Berg encyclopedia of world dress and fashion (pp. 37-41) Oxford, United Kingdom: Berg. doi:10.2752/BEWDF/EDch7007

  • Young, Diana (2006). The colours of things. In Christopher Tilley, Webb Keane, Susanne Kuechler, Mike Rowlands and Patricia Spyer (Ed.), The handbook of material culture (pp. 173-185) London: Sage Publications.

  • Young, Diana (2001). The life and death of cars. Private cars on the Pitjantjatjara Lands, South Australia. In Daniel Miller (Ed.), Car cultures (pp. 35-59) London: Berg Publishers.

  • Young, Diana (1998). Punu metaphors and markets- wood carving in the Ernabella area. In Warka iritita munu Kuwari kutu. Work from the past and the present: a celebration of Fifty years of Ernabella Arts (pp. 38-43) Ernabella, SA, Australia: Ernabella Arts .

Journal Article

Other Outputs

PhD and MPhil Supervision

Current Supervision

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Doctor Philosophy — Principal Advisor

    Other advisors:

  • Master Philosophy — Associate Advisor