Origins updated

by Alasdair Mulligan
Publish date
6 December 2010
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This guest post comes from Alasdair Mulligan, a Monash University student currently interning with Museum Victoria as part of his Bachelor of Arts (Journalism) course which he will complete at the end of this year.

Where did your family come from? Why did they choose Victoria? How long ago did they arrive?

These questions, and more, can be answered by the Immigration Museum’s recently updated Origins multimedia display, giving visitors the opportunity to see exactly when, and in what context their family immigrated to Victoria.

Based on Government census information gathered since 1854, Origins contains data from 82 countries, and was researched, built and designed by Museum Victoria in conjunction with SBS Radio, Australian Bureau of Statistics, and community members.

Origins is available at two kiosks in the Long Room of the Immigration Museum, complemented by a large touch screen and audio speakers, it gives visitors the opportunity to explore their family heritage by viewing graphs and bios related to population, history and gender. There is also a website version.

Origins kiosk display The Origins kiosk at the Immigration Museum displays information about migrant communities in Australia.
Source: Museum Victoria

Bettina, a 28 year old German tourist, said she found Origins “fascinating” and that it told her a lot about why her dad was considering living in Melbourne in the 1950s.

“My dad actually moved to Australia after the war for four years, it was the trend at the time – to move overseas – but I don’t think he liked being away from his family and friends for too long, so he came back.

“It was really interesting seeing how many people thought like my father back then. You can see on the graph that heaps of people from Germany decided to come to Australia during the same time.” Bettina said.

Origins has recently undergone a significant upgrade, and senior curator Deb Tout-Smith says that the service has considerably expanded and now offers a lot more.

Origins has been updated with the latest 2006 Government Census Information, this includes 12 new communities being added, plotted histories being updated and a handful of audio-visual guides being included.

“It’s supposed to provide an insight into the community, show the political and socio-economic reasons of why they immigrated, and while this update has taken longer than we hoped to complete, working with communities is something that you can’t rush.” Deb said.

“At the moment we include communities that have a population of at least 1100 people, I’d love to get that down to somewhere around the 100 mark, but it all depends on feasibility, we get a lot of people saying ‘Why aren’t we in origins?’ but sometimes these communities only contain one or two people and it would be basically including someone’s personal history.”

Work has already begun on preparing the next update for Origins, which will include the 2011 Government Census Information, and is expected to be ready in two to three years' time.


Journeys of a Lifetime in the Immigration Museum's Long Room

Origins website

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About this blog

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