TODAY | May 14, 2013
>>> now, to a story that spans half the globe and a century. five decades. some long lost artwork is making its way back to its rightful home. more now to nbc 's sara james.
>> hi. welcome to all.
>> reporter: from upstate new york all the way down under.
>> quite a trek, four flights halfway around the world .
>> i was actually thinking this little fellow is coming home for the first time in 50 years.
>> reporter: colgate professor doug hicks and another professor going to all.
>> we've lost so much.
>> and they went for a box of paintings.
>> when the art was identified we knew it was significant.
>> reporter: because these exclusive paintings were by children?
>> i took the kids from that part to here.
>> reporter: 1,000 mixed race children taken to camps like this one in all in attempt s s to spread out the ab bore rig niece and create a white australia . seen in a movie called "the white fence." and the government apologized.
>> the goal was you would disappear.
>> out of site, out of mind.
>> reporter: the children in the '40s had a teacher who introduced them to art and these children of the land had a passion for landscape, an outlet for suffering. that art toured europe and wound up with an american collector. now, half a century later --
>> how do you feel?
>> a lot of emotions.
>> reporter: this gift to an australian university. an artistic down payment. soon, the entire collection comes home. for "today," sara james, nbc news, perth, australia.
>> and we're back with more, but first, this is "today" on nbc .