Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Pre-Congress Visit to Adelaide Migration Museum

We arrived in Adelaide yesterday to glorious weather! The sun is shining and the day was  beautiful.

 It was great to see a Congress Banner at the airport welcoming attendees to Adelaide.

We arrived at the Oaks Embassy and are staying in a very nice apartment on the 6th floor. I am very much in favour of apartment living on breaks as you have the option of cooking your own meals if you wish and you have more room. This two bedroom unit worked out (on a good special at only $160-180 a night) which split between two and right across from the conference venue was good value.

Apart from Congress the particular thing I wanted to do while I was here was to visit the Migration Museum so I headed off there yesterday afternoon accompanied by Seonaid Lewis Family History librarian extraordinaire from Auckland library and Robyn Williams NZ AFFHO representative and also NZ Society committee member.

 As you walk along the street you see these high walls. The walls were made of this lovely stonework although in previous times they would not have been considered as nice as these walls surrounded the Adelaide Destitute Asylum from 1852-1918, a place of last resort. The Migration Museum was established in these grounds.

As you enter the gateway surrounded by high walls,  you first see this marvellous sculpture of a migrant family.The statute caption says it all:

"Courage, Price, Dreams, Achievement"
 

Then straight ahead is the entrance to the Museum.


Along the wall prior to entry are plaques of a number of community groups who have contributed to the Museum. As expected it is a wide range of groups as Australia today has migrants from 185 countries.

The Museum has been designed with interactive exhibits, some electronic.  I would have loved to have had some children with me to share in the joys of discoveries and they would loved being able to interact with the exhibits.. 

The entrance into the first room had citizenship documents from a range of times.

The displays were fantastic and have obviously been designed and curated by very experienced and artistic people.

There are information boards available giving further information. In this first hexagonal room there was a fantastic item in the middle. it was like a ships wheel that you could turn to a defined time period and in the floor there were cut-outs which showed some key points about that time period.

There were timelines showing what was happening around the world and also what was happening in Australia. There have been times in our immigration history of which we are not proud such as the "White Australia Policy" and these are also displayed. A board which showed some of the emigrants who tried to get in and the response from immigration officials showed this very clearly and has more stark impact that simply reading of facts will ever give.

Stolen Generation, child migration, post WW2 immigration are all covered as are the more recent emigrants.

Lastly in this building we looked at the Forum where any community can do a display of their emigrant experience. The current display is from the Armenian Community. It shows the Armenian heritage and then the Genocide in 1915 where 1.5 million Armenians perished. This was a particular tragedy in which efforts were made to give relief by people from South Australia who collected food and clothing to help the starving refugees.

A major tragedy as this experience has been repeated by other ethnic and religious groups through time. One day all peoples will be recognised as people by everyone.


Entry into the Museum is free although donations are accepted. I would strongly encourage you to visit this museum and to take along your children,

The Migration Museum run regular events for school-children and also regular exhibitions so keep a watch on their website

Also on the site is the pavement of people who have emigrated. People were able to donate to the museum and have the name of their emigrant placed on a brick.  A great range of dates and originating countries.


There was also a lovely exhibition about a Japanese artist Tomono Wynn, resident in Australia with some of her artwork, memento and story. 

The last exhibition we saw was the display of the Destitute Asylum on the site from 1852-1918 (after that the site became the Chemistry laboratory).

This is a saddening experience.Not many items from the Asylum survive but these are well displayed. Some of the heart-rending stories of the inmates are shown. 

The Lying-in Hospital was also part of the Asylum. Maternity cases were not admitted to the Adelaide hospital and if you were also unfortunate enough to be single and pregnant there was not usually anywhere you could go. You were considered to be one of the "immoral poor". The Asylum was a feared place but was able to give some help to the destitute and needy of Adelaide.

After this experience we ambled back to our hotel then went and dinner at the Grosvenor. We arrived for Happy Hour and what better beer could you have for a Family History conference attendee than James Squires One Fifty Lashes?

Jill Ball and her husband Robert joined us for dinner after an exchange on Twitter and a great time was had by all. Photo on Jil's blog kindly taken by Robert.

And now off to visit Glenelg before the welcome reception tonight and the official start of the AFFHO 2012 conference!