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.

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

Culture Shutdown at Immigration Museum

Author
by J. Patrick Greene
Publish date
4 March 2013
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At the 2002 European Museum of the Year awards I described the National Museum of Bosnia-Herzegovina as a "demonstration of the indomitable human spirit". Thanks to sheer dedication and spirit of its staff members, the Museum had survived a chaotic decade of conflict and destruction. Located in Sarajevo, the Museum was involved in many military operations over the course of the conflict and suffered significant structural losses from intensive bombing. Despite having no roof or heating the staff continued to stand by their institution, opening the Museum for a Museum Day while the war raged on around it. Scientists, security guards, curators all took turns standing guard outside the Museum during the conflict and thanks to their gallant effort only 10 per cent of the objects in the Museum's collection were damaged.

Cello player in wrecked building A cello player in the partially destroyed National Library, Sarajevo during the war in 1992. The cellist is local musician Vedran Smailović, who often came to play for free at different funerals during the siege despite the fact that funerals were often targetted by Serb forces.
Image: Mikhail Evstafiev
Source: CC BY-SA 3.0 via wikipedia.org
 

In 2013, the Museum is again under threat. Today marks the six month anniversary of the closure of the National Museum of Bosnia-Herzegovina after 124 years of existence. Despite the Museum housing objects of national and international significance, in 2012 wooden planks were nailed over its doors after political debate regarding the funding of national institutions could not be resolved.

doors of the closed National Museum of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The doors of the closed National Museum of Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Image: Oslobodjenje
Source: http://www.cultureshutdown.net/
 

In response, cultural institutions across the world have joined together in order to draw awareness of this crisis by symbolically closing off an object on display for three days culminating in the global Day of Museum Solidarity today. I am very proud that Museum Victoria could take part in this action by symbolically 'taping off' an object on the ground floor of the Immigration Museum. The object being 'taped off' is a model double spiral staircase crafted from Brazilwood by Heinrich Munzel in Brazil between 1835 and 1850. This action is now part of a virtual exhibition showing different institutions' solidarity acts from across the globe including the Museum of Contemporary Arts (NSW), Museum of Modern Art Chicago (USA) and the Oslo Museum (Norway).

To visit the virtual exhibition or find out more about the global Day of Museum Solidarity head over to the Culture Shutdown website.

Showcase with tape across it Taped off Model Staircase by Heinrich Munzel at the Immigration Museum.
Image: Emily Kocaj
Source: Museum Victoria
 

There Once Was An Irish Kids Fest…

Author
by Siobhan
Publish date
30 January 2013
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There Once Was An Irish Kids Fest…

On Sunday 18 January we hosted 1,952 people here at Immigration Museum for the Irish Kids Fest, and what a fabulous day it was!  So much of the dialogue around the Irish diaspora at the moment is focused on the harsh economic conditions that make a life away from home more viable, but this was a day to revel in what we love about being Irish and to share the fun of Irish culture and arts.

Céili and set dancing workshop Céili and set dancing workshop
Image: Justine Philip
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In the courtyard, dancers of all ages from the Christine Ayres School of Irish Dancing displayed their intricate footwork and helped children find their feet during céili and set dancing workshops.

Learning céili dance moves Learning céili dance moves
Image: Justine Philip
Source: Museum Victoria
   

Throughout the day, children and families heard Irish tales from storyteller Oisín McKenna, found the lost treasure of Ireland during interactive theatre performances with Jack and Molly (Vince and Margie Brophy) and also had fun playing our Federation handbells, making Claddagh crowns and illuminated bookmarks.

Irish storytelling session Irish storytelling session
Image: Justine Philip
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Here at the Discovery Centre, Simon and I helped people to get started on their family history journeys, using the resources available through the National Archives of Australia and the Public Records Office of Victoria.  But best of all, we hosted a limerick writing competition, with a sweet or sticker for every entry, and hourly main prizes for the best ones.  There were LOTS of amazing entries, and it was really hard to choose between them!  We displayed the rest of our favourites on our board for the rest of the week for people to enjoy.

  One of the fantastic limerick competition winners One of the fantastic limerick competition winners
Image: Phil Morrissey
Source: Museum Victoria
 

I’m sure it will come as no surprise that we had a few limerick entries from grownups – they certainly made us laugh, but I’m afraid I can’t share them here.  My favourite was about a young sailor and his predilection for dancing. I’ll leave the rest of that one as an exercise for the reader! 

  Learning to play the bodhrán (Irish drum) Learning to play the bodhrán (Irish drum)
Image: Justine Philip
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A busy day full of great craic – can’t wait to see you all again at the next Kids Fest!

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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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