Old Masters: Australia's Great Bark Artists features 122 of the most exquisite Arnhem Land works by 40 artists.
The chair of the Indigenous Advisory Committee to the Australian National Museum, Peter Yu, says many of the artists lived off the land before the arrival of white explorers in some of the most remote parts of the Northern Territory.
"We needed to be able to explain to the broader non-aboriginal community, to the white community, who we are, what we are, and what is our story," he said.
"These aren't just magnificent works of fine art, this tells a story of the fabric of Aboriginal society."
The paintings were created between 1948 and 1988, and have been held in the National Museum's vault.