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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

More Melbourne...

Last Monday DH and I visited the Immigration Museum in Melbourne. Because we are Seniors, entry was free! The building that the museum is in, is very beautiful. It was originally the Customs House for Victoria.
The exhibits ranged from static displays, videos, captioned photographs, artifacts etc,  right through to interactive media.

The front of the immigration Museum

One of the very elegant corridors inside the museum

One of the exhibition halls focused solely on shipping which was obviously the way most immigrants came to the colony/then state of Victoria.  In the middle of the hall, was a construction which resembled a ship's hull. Inside this hull  were 'mock ups' of 19th century ships passenger quarters as well as 1950s passenger cabins.

hammock above cargo in 'steerage class' aboard an early sailing boat

Another example of passenger quarters on an old vessel

The 'privy' on an old ship
Salon, first class on an early C20th vessel
Cabin typical of post WW2 immigration ship

The first immigrants, the convicts, had little choice but the displays were very informative on reasons for later immigration to Victoria; better living conditions, safer living conditions,  or escaping war, political or religious persecution. Obviously the lure of the gold rushes swelled the colony's population rather quickly in the mid 1800s.

In later years migration to Australia was encouraged to overcome skills' shortages and for family reunions.
We had already learned from our stay in the gold mining towns that there were many immigrants in those early days from Germany and 'their' stories were told at the museum displays.
The Chinese and US immigrants who came for the gold rushes in the 1850s were also showcased. There was quite a bit of information about how the 'White Australia Policy' was to evolve due to fear of the large numbers of Chinese immigrants in those early days of the state.

Other displays focused on the post WW2 immigration from Europe and how these people faced hardships settling in and overcame much adversity to make a life for themselves and their families.  In more recent times, immigrants come from  diverse countries and cultures and there were a number of displays and interactive media showing this. The main theme in these displays was tolerance and respect of other cultures.

This display represented a haberdashery hawker's cart, similar to what  Simcha Myer Baevski  (Sydney Myer)  would have used

Myer was a Russian-Jew who escaped persecution in Russia and went on to found the famous Myer stores' chain

We 'shared' our visit with a number of school groups; there seemed to be children everywhere with their clipboards looking for answers in the captions on the displays. It was great for me, watching the teachers and helpers counting heads and rounding up slow coaches or trying to get recalcitrant students to fill in the sheets...I don't have that responsibility any more! Yay!


Dorothy said...

Very interesting - thank you. My ancestors would have traveled in ships like this one.

Mary said...

I'll keep the modern day. I do love the Russian Myer store finds. So classy, all the lace. Yummm. Mary

Susan said...

A great post Maria, so interesting. Must go and have a look for ourselves when next in Melbourne - have never been there!

jacky croft said...

What a post.
Builders Stanthorpe