Immigration Museum

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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.

1889 tram model

Author
by Matilda Vaughan
Publish date
29 October 2013
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Matilda swapped a life working as an engineer for a life curating the museum’s historical Engineering collection. She’s very curious about how stuff works, how it’s made and why. If a machine’s got a switch, she’ll definitely flick it.

What do you do when a significant part of our local transport history would make a great addition to a new exhibition, but it no longer exists? Well, you recreate it in miniature, of course.

By 1888, Melbourne was already on its way to an integrated suburban rail transport network, and horse-drawn tramcars mingled with cable tramcars. Tramcars propelled by electric motors were very new and developing rapidly. Overseas commercially-operated installations were powered by either on-board batteries or connections to external underground or overhead electrical wiring. The first electric tram powered by an overhead wire in Australia was demonstrated as a fee paying, passenger-carrying attraction within the grounds of the 1888 Melbourne International Centennial Exhibition.

Men on Melbourne's first electric tram Australia’s first suburban electric tramway service at the Box Hill terminus on opening day, 14 October 1889. Do these passengers look excited about their ride on the latest public transport system in Melbourne?
Source: Doncaster & Templestowe Historical Society (DP0203)

While news reports from the time provide basic information about the tramcar and the exhibit, we couldn’t find any surviving photographs. However images do exist of its later use, in the following year, on the Box Hill-Doncaster Tramway Company’s route. This route ran from Box Hill Railway Station up what is now known as Tram Road, towards the Observation Tower and close to where Doncaster Shoppingtown now stands.

We provided these photographs, supplemented with curatorial research gleaned from historical literature such as newspapers, engineering journals, patents and electric tramcar and street railway technology reviews, to model maker Mark O'Brien. He used this information to prepare a digital model using 3D modelling software, carefully deconstructing parts to suit the manufacturing method.

Man sitting at computer showing a 3D digital model The 3D digital model can be rotated and viewed from all angles, to match the viewers’ perspective to the original photographic image.
Image: Matilda Vaughan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Then came the real art of the project: translating the digital model into an actual object. The miniature parts were crafted with a blend of traditional model making techniques and additive manufacturing technology (3D printing).

parts of tram model Left: assembly of the tram model parts prior to painting and finishing. Right: the truck (or bogie) construction prior to painting, in the hand of the model maker Mark O'Brien.
Image: Matilda Vaughan
Source: Museum Victoria

parts of tram model Left: detail of conductor base. Right: electric motor, wheels and axle box, 3D printed and finished to resemble metal.
Image: Matilda Vaughan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Scanning the tram model into the collection system Upon its arrival at the museum, we checked the condition of the tram model, registered it, tagged it and scanned into the Collection Location System for tracking.
Image: Matilda Vaughan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

When the Box Hill tramway closed down, the original tramcar was sold to H.V. McKay’s Sunshine agricultural implements manufacturing plant and stripped of its electric motor and fittings. The tramcar carriage itself became one of the shelter sheds used for workers’ leisure activities in the nearby parklands. It suffered the fate of most wooden objects left out in the weather for years. In the museum environment however, this miniature representation of the tramcar will live on as part of the as part of the state’s permanent Rail Transport Collection, and will be part of the Think Ahead exhibition at Scienceworks from December 2013.

MV TOURS app

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
11 October 2013
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Excellent news for urban stickybeaks – we've just released the first three walking tours for the new MV TOURS app. If you’re the kind of person who likes to look up at the older bits of Melbourne, download these free, self-guided tours to your smartphone or device: Spotswood Industrial Heritage, Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, and Melbourne's Golden Mile. Think of the app as having a curator in your pocket, telling you stories on demand.

MV TOURS app This chap is on the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens walking tour, and learning about the Hochgurtel Fountain. This was a top spot for promenading in true 1880s society fashion.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

I had a chat to one of those pocket curators, Dr Charlotte Smith, about her favourite parts of each route. She led the curatorial team developing the three tours and she's proof that there is always more to learn about the city, even if you’re already an expert historian. She’s particularly smitten with the strange corrugated iron annex hung from the side of the Gothic Rialto Building in Flinders Lane – urinals from the 1890s. "They’re just beautiful! I had no idea they were there," says Charlotte. "In those times they didn't have internal plumbing, but an office building still needed to provide a place for men to relieve themselves."

Melbourne's Golden Mile tour app Screenshot from Melbourne's Golden Mile app showing the Rialto Building urinals.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This urinals are a stop on the Melbourne's Golden Mile walking tour, which is based on Professor Graeme Davison's original booklet guide to accompany the path of circular metal disks embedded in city pavements. "We've neatened it a bit, but we follow the Golden Mile disks except where footpaths have been resurfaced and the disks are gone." This tour traces the boom era of Melbourne when the young city was flush with gold money and eager migrants.

Charlotte describes the Spotswood Industrial Heritage walking tour as "fabulous. I’ve really fallen in love with Spotswood." Among stories of manufacturing – fuses, agricultural equipment, glass bottles and more – is the sense of a place that evolved a distinctive character.

Says Charlotte, "we’ve tried to tell the story of it as a suburb with an old soul. There are stories about migration and changing manufacturing needs. The reason why the suburb is so important is its location – it is slightly lower than Melbourne, the river flows past it, and the first train line passed through Spotswood  to the main port at Williamstown." The walking tour also features items of notoriety produced in Spotswood: the glassworks made the suburb the 'Home of the Stubbie', while bushranger Ned Kelly's armour was fashioned from ploughs made by local firm Lennon and Company.

Stubbie Stubbie
Image: Laurie Richards
Source: Museum Victoria
 

All three tours are richly illustrated with hundreds of photographs and images drawn from MV's collections and other important sources, such as Wolfgang Sievers' photographs of industry and Mark Strizic’s beautiful photos of Melbourne in the 1950s. Charlotte particularly loves "a photograph we found for the Fuse Factory on Hall Street, of women working with their heads covered in scarves to protect themselves from flying bits and pieces." These and other images show how places have changed over the years, and in many cases, places that no longer exist.

While Charlotte expects that the Spotswood tour will be most used by local residents, international visitors are a big audience for the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Garden tour, requiring certain concessions for those unfamiliar with the damage that possums can do. Those strange rings of metal around trunks of trees? Possum guards. (That grey furry mound in a tree hollow? Possum.)

The REB tour also includes exquisite drawings by builder David Mitchell of the Exhibition Building. "They’re at the University of Melbourne archive and not often seen. It's fascinating to look at one of the historical drawings then look up at the building and see how it has been realised." 

These three tours are the first instalment in what we hope will be a library of tours of Melbourne and regional places. Download one or all of the tours to your device through either the App Store or Google Play, and let us know what you think! 

Links

Walk through History support page

View all Museum Victoria apps

Immigration Museum: Melbourne's Golden Mile

MV Blog: A golden morning

Greek journeys at Bonegilla Heritage Park

Author
by Alex
Publish date
1 September 2013
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Alex Dellios, one of our Immigration Museum volunteers, recently re-visited Bonegilla as part of her ongoing research for her thesis 'Bonegilla Migrant Camp: Constructing Public History, Negotiating Collective Memories' at the University of Melbourne.

Bonegilla Heritage Park's newest exhibition From Petronis and Ekaterina to Peter and Catherine: Greek Journeys Through Bonegilla touches on more than just the Bonegilla experience of Greek migrants—it subtly explores issues of Greek migrant identity and adjustment in post-war Australia. Open since December 2011, but neglected by this researcher until now, this exhibit is small but surprising. A combination of images, text and objects fill one of the larger rooms in one of Block 19's huts. Information is offered (in both Greek and English) on themes like 'The Greek Farmers Project', 'Building a Greek Community', and 'Sponsorship vs Assisted Migrant Scheme'.

From Petronis and Ekaterina to Peter and Catherine: Greek Journeys Through Bonegilla From Petronis and Ekaterina to Peter and Catherine: Greek Journeys Through Bonegilla
Image: Alex Dellios
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Uniquely, the exhibition does not shy away from an exploration of the scheme and government policy that shaped post-war migrants' settlement experiences. The personalised voice is provided through the testimony of migrants themselves—short and snappy quotes appear on blocks throughout the room. The objects alone seem incongruous, items that often come to mind when building Greek stereotypes in Australia: namely, the bouzouki. Other items also appear behind glass cabinets, presumably donated by Greeks ex-residents.

From Petronis and Ekaterina to Peter and Catherine: Greek Journeys Through Bonegilla From Petronis and Ekaterina to Peter and Catherine: Greek Journeys Through Bonegilla
Image: Alex Dellios
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The second, smaller room contains an unexpected gem—a collection of remarkable miniatures by Tasos Kolokotronis of his village in northern Greece. All of them are created from his memory. They're very detailed miniatures, of village houses, a church, a school, and even the White Tower of Thessaloniki.

From Petronis and Ekaterina to Peter and Catherine: Greek Journeys Through Bonegilla From Petronis and Ekaterina to Peter and Catherine: Greek Journeys Through Bonegilla
Image: Alex Dellios
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Overall, Bonegilla's newest addition is small but enjoyable exhibition that cleverly explores the story of Greek post-war migration. And it appears at a site for which the Melbourne Greek community, especially through the Bonegilla Ex-Residents Association, have displayed unparalleled fondness.

The exhibition, like the rest of the Heritage Park is free and open seven days a week.

Links

Bonegilla Migrant Experience

The Bonegilla Story

Destination Australia

Shake Your Family Tree

Author
by Phil
Publish date
20 April 2013
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Last week the Immigration Museum Discovery Centre participated in the annual Shake Your Family Tree event. Organised by the National Archives of Australia (NAA), this is a national event that brings together family history experts in one location for an entire day.

  NAA Foyer Victorian Archives Centre Foyer
Image: Phillip Morrissey
Source: Phillip Morrissey
 

It was an opportunity for budding genealogists to delve even deeper into their family history with a full day of activities presented by the National Archives and others. There were many opportunities to speak to experts about resources that can assist with your family history journey and visitors could hear personal stories from fascinating guest speakers. Key sessions were webcast, including a special panel discussion on how migrants have shaped Australia, moderated by Karen Middleton, SBS journalist, and an introduction to the National Archives new website Destination: Australia which showcases over 21,000 images of migrants in Australia after World War II.

Along with many other institutions such as the State Library of Victoria, Public Record Office of Victoria, Genealogical Society of Victoria and the Koori Heritage Trust to name but a few, we set up our stand in the foyer of the VAC in North Melbourne and helped many enthusiastic visitors with questions about doing their family history research. 

MV Staff Immigration Museum Info desk
Image: Phillip Morrissey
Source: Phillip Morrissey
 

MV Staff Immigration Museum Info desk at NAA
Image: Phillip Morrissey
Source: Phillip Morrissey
 

It was the perfect opportunity to promote the services of the Discovery Centre at the Immigration Museum which we hope will encourage more visitation to the Museum and the IDC.

Easter Extravaganza at the Immigration Museum

Author
by Elizabeth Downey
Publish date
4 April 2013
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Elizabeth is a Programs Officer at the Immigration Museum

These school holidays the Immigration Museum’s Easter Extravaganza program explores Easter traditions from around the world – from Australia to Germany, Russia, Bermuda and beyond.

photo of Adrienne Leith surrounded by her collection of Easter egg wrappers
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

Museum Victoria's Adrienne Leith has been creating her own Easter traditions since the mid-1960s, when she began saving the colourful foil from her Easter eggs. "As a child," Adrienne says, "the most treasured things I owned were Easter wrappers. My birthday is just after Easter, so I would be given special ones every year." Her collection spans almost 50 years with over 350 pieces, which are carefully catalogued in two leather scrapbooks. Adrienne only collects wrappers from eggs that have been given to her and she flattens all her wrappers by hand.

photo of Easter Egg Tree at Immigration Museum
Image: Elizabeth Downey
Source: Museum Victoria

Children can bring along their own Easter egg wrappers to the Immigration Museum's school holiday program, using them to decorate paper or pompom Easter eggs to hang on our Ostereierbaum or Easter egg tree. In Germany, the tradition to decorate the branches of trees and bushes with eggs for Easter is centuries old, with eggs of many styles and from different countries represented.

hand coloured paper babushka dolls Get wrapped up in a Babushka basket.
Image: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

The sharing of eggs is a common practice during spring celebrations such as Easter, though they haven’t always been colourful or made of chocolate.  Traditionally the first thing to be eaten at a Russian Easter feast is an egg. Shared by the whole family, it is cut into equal pieces and given to everyone at the table. It is said that the egg contains happiness for the entire year, so everyone takes a share.

In Bermuda, people of all ages make and fly beautiful, colourful kites with wonderful geometric designs at Easter.  There is said to be a special religious significance in Bermuda to kite flying that started on Good Friday during Easter, when a teacher had difficulty explaining the Christian religious concept of Jesus' ascension to heaven to his Sunday school class

Inspired by these customs, hop into the Immigration Museum these school holidays to make your own Bermuda kite, Babushka baskets or paper and pompom eggs for our German Easter Egg tree.

See our Autumn School Holiday Program webpage for more details.

In-Flight at the Royal Children’s Hospital

Author
by Alex
Publish date
25 March 2013
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Alex Price is a Programs Officer at the Immigration Museum. She has a passion for Cultural Diversity education and Early Learning.

In celebration of Cultural Diversity Week, the Immigration Museum Education and Community Programs team took the In-Flight installation to the Royal Children’s Hospital on Tuesday 19 March 2013.

Originally part of the Another Country artist in residence series held at Immigration Museum, In-Flight is an installation conceived by Filipino-born and Brisbane-based artists Isabel and Alfredo Aquilizan.  The installation references a transitional place of leave-taking and homecoming and due to popular demand, it has continued to grow in the second floor foyer of the Immigration Museum.

group of people sitting around a table making planes from recycled material In-Flight at the Immigration Museum
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

Visitors are invited to rummage through recycled plastic bottles, cardboard boxes, felt, string, icy-pole sticks and much more to gather materials to make a mini aeroplane. Once completed, the planes are taken home or added to the large overhead structure. Constructions range from conventional bi-planes to more creative interpretations of the most common form of transport used to immigrate today.

The Education Institute of the Royal Children’s Hospital invited the Immigration Museum to partner with them during Cultural Diversity Week by setting up a smaller scale version of the installation in their ‘Main Street.’ 

I assisted and spent a day at the hospital meeting families and encouraging them to participate. We brought two big containers of assorted materials, scissors, elastic and string but no stickytape or glue were allowed, in keeping with the original concept to encourage creative thinking.

children working on in-flight In-Flight at the Royal Children’s Hospital
Image: Alex Price

Children who created aeroplanes included those visiting outpatient clinics as well as long term patients who came down from the wards. Some spent over an hour making planes, assisted by their relatives who had come to visit, and the hospital teachers.  Five children from the Early Learning Centre also joined in and departed excitedly with their creations.

plane made from recycled material In-Flight at the Royal Children’s Hospital
Image: Alex Price

Visitors to the hospital were encouraged to also come along to the Immigration Museum and participate in the larger In- Flight installation, an ongoing and ever-changing activity.

Links:

In-flight at the Immigration Museum

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

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