13/12/2016 10:07 AM AEDT | Updated 13/12/2016 10:35 AM AEDT

Missing $150,000 Aboriginal Artwork Found In Government Store Room

The man who found it was after something bright for the wall.

Detail of Untitled (Travelling Dreaming) by Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri.

A prized Aboriginal artwork that was lost by the Northern Territory Chief Minister's office in 1981 has been found in a store room.

Fittingly, the Papunya Board, painted by Aboriginal artist Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, tells a story of journeys and travelling sequences.

Department of Tourism and Culture chief executive Alastair Shields said he found it in an old store room, completely unaware he was handling a work by one of the founders of the Papunya art movement.

"The office needed a little bit of life and colour, however, I had no idea that I was hanging a prized piece of Northern Territory art," Mr Shields said.

Untitled (Travelling Dreaming) by Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri.

"I was shocked to learn it was a one-of-a-kind Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri painting that had been missing for 35 years, last seen in the Chief Minister's Office in 1981."

The work has an estimated value of $100,000–$150,000 and will now be displayed at The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory in time for the exhibition Tjungungutja: Early Papunya Paintings opening in July 2017.

What is the work about?

The Papunya Board shows radiating lines which indicate a journey and the circular forms are sit-down places. The bottom two Ceremonial Men are singing a bush tucker song and the top two figures are not singing at all. The curved linear pattern represents bush tucker, and the key features are roundels for campfires in a travelling sequence.