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.

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 Patrick Greene
Publish date
4 March 2013
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Comments (1)

Dr J. Patrick Greene is the CEO of Museum Victoria.

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!

Old Customs House revisited

Author
by Kate B
Publish date
21 January 2013
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Comments (4)

I loved the post on the restoration of Old Customs House – do you have any earlier images of the Old Customs House?

Stepping further back in time this post will look at images of Old Customs House from 1957-1969. Customs officers moved out of Old Customs House in 1965. The building was then used as the Melbourne offices for the Commonwealth Parliament and its local members. 

The following images sourced from the National Archives of Australia show the Old Customs House during this period.

Eastern View, Long Room 1957 Eastern View, Long Room 1957
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National Archives of Australia
 

The chandeliers, clock and parquetry flooring are no longer a feature of the Long Room today. The restoration of the Long Room included researching the original flooring, and sourcing and laying a near exact copy of the original tiling.

Eastern View, Long Room 1965  Old Customs House, Eastern View, Long Room 1965
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National Archives of Australia
 

Desks and partitions were installed to create a workspace for office staff.

Western View, Ground Floor 1969 Old Customs House, Western View, Ground Floor 1969
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National ARchives Australia
 

In this image the lifts are directly opposite the grand staircase on the western side of the building.  The lift today is still on the western side but moved about three meters to the left. 

  South East View, Ground Floor Foyer 1969 South East View, Ground Floor Foyer 1969
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National Archives Australia
 

One of the main differences here is the glass wall creating a vestibule from the street entrance. Other differences include the central desk and carpeted floor. 

  First or Second Floor Corridor, 1965 Old Customs House, First or Second Floor Corridor, 1965
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National Archives of Australia
 

Cupboards, shelving and seating line the walls of the corridor and linoleum covers the original marbled flooring.

  South View, Rear Courtyard Old Customs House 1969 South View, Rear Courtyard Old Customs House 1969
Image: National Archives of Australia
Source: National Archives Australia
 

The rear courtyard area now features the Immigration Museum’s Tribute Garden. There is now also a glass atrium attached to the rear entrance of the building.

The Immigration Museum opened in the Old Customs House in 1998 and houses a number of exciting exhibitions exploring the history of immigration to Victoria, contemporary issues exploring identity, international and local community exhibitions and the history of The Old Customs House.

Immigration Museum is open daily from 10am - 5pm

Got a question? Ask us!

The luck of the Irish

Author
by Jo
Publish date
8 December 2012
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November 18th 2012 saw the Irish come together once again at the Immigration Museum. The Immigration Museum festivals are always well received by the community involved and the community at large, and the Irish festival was certainly no exception.

Doors opened at 10am, and the queue began shortly after! There was a formal welcome and opening from Mr Leo Varadkar TD, Ireland's Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport and HE Noel White, Ambassador of Ireland.

The view outside the Immigration Mueusem The queue patiently waiting outside the Immigration Museum for the Irish Festival
Image: Tatiana Mauri
Source: Tatiana Mauri
 

There was singing and there was dancing, and there was more singing! The Irish Language Association Choir hypnotised us with their amazing sound and the Lake School of Celtic Music, Song and Dance performed to a packed courtyard. No Irish festival is complete without an Irish jig, and Christine Ayers School for Irish Dancing performed the honours.

Irish dancers Some of the Irish dancers who performed for the crowds at the Irish Festival
Image: Tatiana Mauri
Source: Tatiana Mauri
 

Inside, there were tea and biscuits made by Comhaltas and the Lake School of Celtic Music, Song and Dance (they certainly were busy!). Upstairs there were craft activities for the children, making family trees or glittery Claddagh crowns. There were various representatives from the Irish community throughout the museum giving out information about organisations and associations celebrating all things Irish.

The crowd enjoying the performance on the Main Stage The crowd outside enjoying one of the many performances at the Irish Festival
Image: Tatiana Mauri
Source: Tatiana Mauri
 

The Immigration Discovery Centre hosted a family history workshop with Phillip Moore from the Celtic Club's Cultural Heritage Committee and the Immigration Museum shop was selling Irish treats to our visitors.

Of course P J O'Brien's made an appearance - Although they didn't bring the Guinness, they did bring the some delicious treats for our visitors, as did Paddy's Meats. All of this was complemented with the amazing and moving exhibition, Leaving Dublin.

One of the performances for the Irish Festival Crowds enjoying one of the many performaces for the Irish Festival at the Immigration Museum
Image: Tatiana Mauri
Source: Tatiana Mauri
 

The success of a festival day can be seen in the faces of our visitors and the crowds patiently waiting on Flinders Street to come in and enjoy the festivities. We had so much fun that we thought we'd do it again. KidsFest in January 2013 will have an Irish theme, so if you missed the Irish Festival, check out KidsFest! More details can be found here.

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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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