Immigration Museum


Immigration Museum

The Immigration Museum explores the stories of people who have migrated to Victoria. Located in Old Customs House, the museum re-creates real-life experiences with a rich mix of film, personal and community voices, memories and memorabilia.

Talking Difference at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum

by Sam Boivin
Publish date
16 September 2015
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Friday 28 August - Monday 23 November 2015

Back in August 2014, I gave a presentation on Talking Difference at a forum called Just Encounters: Bringing Together Education, Arts and Research. This forum was presented by the Minutes of Evidence (MoE) project.

Also at the forum, and hearing me talk, were staff members from the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum, who were planning an upcoming exhibition, Oil Paint and Ochre: The incredible story of William Barak and the de Purys, which explores the complexity of first-generation negotiation between Aboriginal and European people in Australia.

As part of the exhibition's complementary public programming, researchers were looking for an engaging and interactive way to bring the story right into the present – to show and remind visitors that the exchange and negotiation across cultures is ongoing in Australia, and to allow any issues or thoughts raised by the exhibition to be voiced and explored. They remembered my presentation at the Just Encounters forum and contacted me about a possible residency for the Talking Difference Portable Studio, for the duration of the exhibition.

The Talking Difference Portable Studio The Talking Difference Portable Studio at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria

On Friday 28 August I travelled east to the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum and set up the studio. A workshop was then held with fifteen local year 8 students. Many of the themes Talking Difference addresses were discussed, including personal identity, judging people based on outward appearances, and why making jokes about another person’s race or skin colour is not okay. The students demonstrated a good grasp of the workshop ideas and a lot of empathy. At the end of the workshop, students came up with some questions that were then recorded in the Talking Difference Portable Studio for members of the public to respond to:

  • How do you identify yourself?
  • Have you ever felt like you had to change part of your identity? Why?
  • How do you feel if someone tells you that they are a different religion to you? Why?
  • Have you ever been ashamed of your culture or race? What happened? How did it make you feel?
  • Have you ever stereotyped someone? How do you think it made them feel?
  • Have you ever been teased because of who you are? How did it make you feel?
  • Is it okay to tell a joke about someone’s race or skin colour? Who gets to decide if the joke is funny?

Talking Difference Talking Difference as viewed from the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum exhibition galleries.
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria

The Oil Paint and Ochre exhibition presents objects and stories from the de Pury family collection, including diaries, letters and artefacts. I was lucky enough to be given a walk-through preview of the exhibition, and found the stories and content quite moving, especially in the use of intimate snippets of the forty year exchange between two cultures. The exhibition represents a great opportunity for Talking Difference to reach a historically rich part of Victoria and to add to its growing collection of community responses to questions about identity, belonging, racism, and the other themes that Talking Difference seeks to address.

Oil Paint and Ochre: The incredible story of William Barak and the de Purys, is running from Saturday 29 August - Sunday 22 November, 2015 at the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum: 33 Castella St, Lilydale VIC 3140. The Talking Difference Portable Studio will be in residence for the duration of the exhibition.

The Honourable Joan Kirner

Dr Greene is the CEO of Museum Victoria.

Museum Victoria mourns Joan Kirner, the former Premier of Victoria, who served as a member of the museum's governing body from 2003 to 2012.

Joan Kirner speaking at the Joan Kirner speaking at the celebration of the 21st birthday of Scienceworks.
Source: Museum Victoria

Joan's first involvement with the museum occurred during her time as Premier of Victoria when she opened Scienceworks, an investment in the scientific life of the State that proved very forward-thinking.

Joan was an enthusiastic supporter of Museum Victoria. Just last week she was talking about ways in which she might help with one of the museum's current projects that is providing visibility to the role of women on farms in Australia. Her enthusiasm for efforts to recognise and encourage women in all aspects of public and personal life extended to many other aspects of social justice, including the rights of Aboriginal Australians. She was a member of the museum's Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Advisory Committee, and the development of the First Peoples exhibition in Bunjilaka was dear to her heart.

Joan's passions extended to wildlife, and particularly birds. She and Ron, her husband, went on camping trips that would bring them to places rich in birdlife until ill-health curtailed that activity. She was a great advocate for opportunities for the museum to display its rich collections of natural science specimens, culminating in the opening of the award-winning Wild: Amazing animals in a changing world at Melbourne Museum. As someone who placed the education of young people high on any agenda, the museum's ability to reach and inspire hundreds of thousands of children was a source of considerable pleasure. Joan was also on the Immigration Museum Advisory Committee and was a strong advocate for youth engagement which resulted in the Talking Difference project.

I enjoyed working with Joan Kirner enormously during her nine years (the maximum term) as a Board member. Her enthusiasm was matched by her keen intellect: she was a constant source of wisdom. When she stepped down from the Board, Joan was appointed an Honorary Life Fellow of Museum Victoria and she continued to take a close interest in its progress. Her insights into the politics and personalities of Victoria were always valuable and frequently amusing. She was held in high regard by everyone associated with Museum Victoria and we will miss her greatly.

Multilingual Museum Tour launch

by Jen Brook
Publish date
26 March 2015
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Jen manages Humanities programs at Museum Victoria.

To celebrate Cultural Diversity Week, last Friday we proudly launched the Immigration Museum’s Multilingual Museum Tour. This free downloadable app, made in partnership with SBS, is your personal tour of the museum in six languages: Arabic, French, Italian, Japanese and Mandarin and English. The tour features detailed text, audio commentary and stunning historical imagery that reveal the stories of the people, businesses and architecture that have transformed Melbourne and Victoria.

Four people at tour app launch Immigration Museum Manager Padmini Sebastian and MV CEO Dr J Patrick Greene (far right) with launch guests Mr Peter Khalil and Hon Robin Scott MP.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

The tour was launched by Hon Robin Scott, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, who addressed a crowd of special guests including representatives from the Victorian Multicultural Commission, City of Melbourne, Melbourne Visitors Centre, the Yulgilbar Foundation, Multicultural Arts Victoria and AMES. We also had had the Consulate Generals of Spain, Italy, and France and our project partners SBS. The Minister spoke of the importance in recognising Melbourne as a successful, contemporary multilingual society and the significance of the Immigration Museum as a place to celebrate Victoria’s multiculturalism. Cultural Diversity Week is one of Victoria’s largest multicultural celebrations and, like the Immigration Museum, provides an opportunity for all Victorians to come together to share their culture, faith and language.

Guests at the launch of the tour app Guests at the Immigration Museum to launch the Multilingual Museum Tour.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

The museum is proud and delighted to have partnered with SBS for this project, an organisation at the forefront of celebrating multicultural Australia, providing high quality, independent, culturally-relevant media to all Australians regardless of geography, age, cultural background or language skills. SBS’s talented radio presenters are the voices behind the Arabic, Italian, Japanese, French and Mandarin guides. The English guide is presented by Immigration Museum Manager Padmini Sebastian.

Six presenters of the app Presenters of the Multilingual Museum Tour app:
MANDARIN: Liu Jiang, SBS Radio
ARABIC: Iman Riman, SBS Radio
ITALIAN: Carlo Oreglia, SBS Radio
FRENCH: Christophe Mallet, SBS Radio
ENGLISH: Padmini Sebastian, Manager Immigration Museum
JAPANESE Miyuki Watanabe SBS Radio
Source: Museum Victoria / SBS

The Immigration Museum’s Multilingual Museum Tour builds on the technology initiatives and programs that Museum Victoria has been developing in recent years which assist in increasing audience access to our museums and collections. These include Melbourne’s Golden Mile, Spotswood Industrial Heritage and Carlton Gardens walking tour apps, as well as the Field Guide to Victorian Fauna app, which has been downloaded over 100,000 times,

Guests at the Multilingual Museum Tour launch. Guests at the Multilingual Museum Tour launch.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

You can download the app free to your own Apple and Android device before your visit, or ask to borrow one of our devices from the Immigration Museum ticketing desk.

North South Feast West backyard blitz

by Catherine Devery
Publish date
15 January 2015
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Catherine makes her living administrating and programming festivals at the Immigration Museum. She is yet to win the Museum Victoria annual end of year party costume competition but she never says never.

The Immigration Museum is getting a backyard blitz. For our upcoming North South Feast West series, we’re activating our iconic CBD courtyard and creating the perfect setting to feast on culture.

The key to the courtyard transformation is an outdoor built environment by architects Millie Cattlin and Joseph Norster. Millie and Joe form These are THE PROJECTS we do together, a design practice known for creative and thoughtful installations that occupy public space.

Courtyard with seating made from pallets Testing Grounds outdoor art space by “The Projects”.

The installation is taking place this week in time for Sunday’s Chocolate Fest. The courtyard will be converted into a Chocolate Beer Garden featuring Choc Hops from Mildura Brewery and specialised Mörk Chocolate/Rooftop Honey “Mörktails”. The festival will feature chocolate stalls and tastings, talks and workshops and entertainment from a selection of Melbourne DJs and outfits.

Bowls of chocolate things Delicious chocolately treats from Mörk.
Source: Mörk Chocolate

Every Friday night in February, the courtyard will become an inner city cantina. Presented in association with PBS FM, each Courtyard Cantina will feature a bar and food pop-up from a variety of vendors including the likes of Senor BBQ, Boss Man Food, Trailer Made, Shebeen and Kumo. Music will be provided by a line-up of DJs and the entire museum will be open after hours for the duration of the events.

Courtyard Cantina flyer Courtyard Cantina flyer
Source: Museum Victoria

In April, we’ll fire up the courtyard BBQ for Chilli Fest and Coffee Fest in June will explore the world’s take on the humble café.

The whole series of events compliment the permanent exhibitions at the Immigration Museum which explore the history and impact of immigration in Victoria as well as stories of real people and contemporary Melbourne culture. It’s also a great opportunity to see Freedom: Photographs by Andy Drewit, a photography exhibition that celebrates refugees and asylum seekers’ freedom to pursue interests and engage in hobbies once safe in Australia. Freedom is showing until 31 May.

For tickets and more information, please visit the North South Feast West page. You can also follow all the happenings on Facebook: 


Scots Wha Hae

by Sadie
Publish date
7 November 2014
Comments (1)

Sadie works on exhibitions at Museum Victoria.

Question: What do the following Victorian place names have in common:

Armadale, Arthurs Seat, Bairnsdale, Ben Cruachan, Boisdale, Campbellfield, Clunes, Clydesdale, Coldstream, Drysdale, Ensay, Glenaladale, Glenelg River, Hepburn Springs, The Grampians, Lauriston, Lismore, Loch Sport, Mt Stewart, Orbost, Queensferry, Rutherglen, St Andrews, Stonehaven?

Scenery of mountains Lake Wartook, Grampians National Park
Image: Ken Harris
Source: Ken Harris

Answer: All these place names come from a place in Scotland or from a Scottish name.

The Scots are one of Australia’s oldest migrant groups. 2014 marks the 200th anniversary of the first formal migration from Scotland to Victoria. During the 19th century many Scottish people settled in Victoria’s Western, Wimmera and Gippsland districts.

Women in Scottish dress Caledonian Society, Bendigo, Victoria, circa 1905
Source: Museum Victoria

Scots were represented among professions that bestowed place names—including governors and surveyors—hence many Victorian towns have Scottish names today. Thus, Campbellfield and Mt Stewart reference significant Scottish clans while Arthurs Seat and the Grampians hark back to fondly remembered locations in Scotland.

Girl in Scottish dress outside school building Garvoc, Victoria, circa 1935
Source: Museum Victoria

Our latest community exhibition, Scots Wha Hae, reveals the influence of the Scottish in Victoria from the 19th century to the continuing influx of young Scots today. You'll encounter stories of Dame Nellie Melba, Macpherson Robertson, AC/DC and the textile designer who developed the Victorian tartan.

Children in Scottish dress with woman playing bagpipes Highland Dancers, 1950s
Source: Bill Schrank

The patriotic song Scots Wha Hae (‘Scots who have’) was written in Scots by Scottish poet Robert Burns in 1793. The unofficial national anthem of Scotland for centuries, it was chosen as the exhibition title by the Scots of Victoria to evoke a sense of Scottish pride while acknowledging the opportunities offered by life in Australia.

One boy and 10 girls in Scottish dress Highland dancers
Image: Kara Lorgelly
Source: Kara Lorgelly

The exhibition Scots Wha Hae: 200 years of Scottish influence opens at the Immigration Museum on 15 November 2014. Come help us celebrate at the Scottish Fling Festival on 16 November with Scottish food, dancing, whisky-tasting and more.

Kids Fest - PLAY!

by Phil
Publish date
30 June 2014
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It’s that time of year again, when we get incredibly excited about the amazing visitors coming to our Winter Kids Fest at the Immigration Museum - and this year they will be coming to PLAY! This year’s festival provides children and parents with the opportunity to experience a range of fun and exciting indoor and outdoor games, toys and activities from many cultures.

Children everywhere like to play with balls, jump, run and chase each other.  However the rules and equipment they use may be different depending on their own cultural traditions. Some games were originally based on religious ceremonies, while other games were based on mythology, folk customs and the routines of everyday life. On Sunday 6 July, children and their families will get the opportunity to discover these and many more for themselves.

Crowd of visitors in the Immigration Museum Theatrette. Crowd of visitors in the Immigration Museum Theatrette.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

On the ground floor we will have performances of Indigenous hip hop dancing along with a Punch and Judy Magic Show, while roving performances from the King Marong African drumming group will keep us entertained throughout the day.

  Children participating in workshops and activities during Kids Fest Punch and Judy during Kids Fest
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

Upstairs we will be discovering traditional children’s games with the Play Lady in our Community Gallery and play traditional games enjoyed all over the world, including jacks, marbles, elastics, and spinning tops. In the Long Room there will be an opportunity for the children to make their own toys, in particular a kite to fly outside or decorate a set of babushka dolls. There will also be a treasure hunt challenge to find toys in our exhibitions – how many will your family find? 

Girl playing with babushka dolls Girl playing with babushka dolls
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

In the Immigration Discovery Centre children will be able to challenge friends and family to a battle of tic tac toe, chess, snakes & ladders, or dominoes. There will also be a selection of online multicultural games available on our computers.

School Visitors Immigration Museum Children playing chess
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

Meanwhile the fun will continue outside in the Festival and Market Street Courtyards for children to get active with skipping, quoits, bucket stilts, bocce, hopscotch and much more.

  Two children, a girl and a boy playing with coloured balls Two children, a girl and a boy playing with coloured balls
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

Join in the revelry and celebrate worldwide games, toys and activities at this special one day festival.

Let the games begin!

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.