Maria Wrońska-Friend, an anthropologist, museum curator and researcher at James Cook University in Australia, specialises in the art and material culture of Southeast Asia and New Guinea. Following graduation from the University of Lodz (MA in anthropology), she worked for a short time as the curator at the Asia and Pacific Museum in Warsaw. Her interest in Indonesian textiles resulted in a PhD thesis completed in 1987 at the Institute of Arts at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw on the influence of Javanese batik on European art at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, analysed as a cross-cultural artistic inspiration.
In 1981 she left Warsaw for a small village in the mountains of Papua New Guinea, a country which became her home for more than ten years. Since 1992 she has lived in Australia, dividing her time between research in Southeast Asia, teaching and curating exhibitions. Apart from Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, she has also conducted research in China, Thailand and India, as well as among Polish and Laotian migrants in Australia.