LOOKING BACK LOOKING FORWARD: Community banners from the Migration Museum collection

The Migration Museum’s Community Banners project began in 1986, the same year the Museum opened to the public. The project was instrumental in building some of the Museum’s early relationships with South Australia’s culturally diverse communities. As a collection, the banners provide a record of how cultural communities in South Australia chose to represent their own past and their hopes for their future. The banners also give an overview of changing needlecraft techniques over the last 35 years.

LivingProof – a collaboration between Bene Aged Care, writer Rosa Matto and photographer Italo Vardaro

As we grow older, how we express our identities shifts as a result of mental and physical limitations, along with our response to the way society expects us to age. LivingProof shares the stories of 10 residents, consumers, family members, staff and volunteers at Bene Aged Care.

In the succinct words of writer Rosa Matto: “If we ignore our storytellers we are lost.” Her words, complemented by the poignant photography of Italo Vardaro, offer a window into the often over-looked moments of joy, beauty and engagement in the elderly care community as we all age in our own way.

As we enter the United Nations Decade of Healthy Ageing (2021–30), we must ask ourselves: What does it mean to grow older – for individuals, their families and communities?

Rosa Matto – writer: “This undertaking with Bene sought to give voice to residents, staff and volunteers; to ask them to tell their stories one more time, assuring them there was a sympathetic ear.

It became more than that. We proposed not to relive the chronology of the past but to find the essence of joy in the present. Starting from a place that was comfortable for the narrator – a doorway in a backstreet in Benevento, a border crossing in Slovenia, a hotel kitchen in Findon, the choir loft of a suburban church – the sound and rhythm of each story differed.”

Italo Vardaro – photographer: “The power and beauty of the still image is that it captures a split second of awareness that you can never reproduce. The process can’t be rushed. And yet for this project I found myself working in a confined residential home where life was as busy as a beehive.

It was a project that made me connect with strangers who were somehow familiar. I felt a connection, a kinship and an understanding. I came to understand why the staff always talked to me about how privileged they felt to care for the residents, the rewards they received by giving care and receiving love in return.”

Deaf-led (Auslan) tours of ‘Expressing ourselves: being Deaf in SA’

Join us for Deaf-led (Auslan) tours of Expressing ourselves: being Deaf in South Australia.  Tours will be approximately 30 minutes, given by Deaf members of the exhibition development committee, who will share stories, information and memories. Sign up for a tour on arrival at the museum.

** Please note these tours will not have an interpreter present **

Saturday 6 February & Sunday 7 February 2021, 2 – 4pm


Enquiries about the tours, please email Corinne.

Link to Facebook post

New Land, New Hope: Commemorating thirty years of settlement by refugees from the Horn of Africa

You make a choice: is it better for me to die walking or die standing still?

In the 1990s, the first wave of refugees from the Horn of Africa region arrived in South Australia. They had fled for their lives from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and South Sudan. They chose life over death, opportunity over poverty and freedom over oppression. They took the ultimate risk and survived.

This exhibition, curated by the Australian Refugee Association, shares the remarkable personal stories of some of those early refugees. It celebrates their contributions to the rich fabric of life in South Australia and shows how a helping hand can completely transform someone’s life.

Over its 45-year history, the Australian Refugee Association (ARA) has helped over 20,000 refugees, migrants and their families build a new life with opportunities to learn, work and grow. ARA is delighted to have worked with the Horn of Africa communities and Migration Museum on this project and appreciates their commitment.

Kids try Auslan!

Join us for an interactive story session where kids aged from 5 to 12 will be able to learn some of the basics of Australian Sign Language (Auslan) in a relaxed and fun setting. Designed for children who haven’t  signed before, but would like to try!

Maximum 1 adult per child, as our venue has COVID-safe capacity limits.

Time: 11am and 12noon
Dates:  Tuesday 19th January
Cost: $10 per child (accompanying adult is free of charge). Bookings essential.

Bookings via Eventbrite

Deaf Community Tapestry The Deaf Community Tapestry was made in 1991 for the 100th anniversary of the Royal South Australian Deaf Society. It represents our Deaf family.

Tangitja etlarintja ekarlta – Working together with strong thoughts

Landscapes of Central Australia in the tradition of Namatjira

This exhibition presents work from current and deceased artists of Iltja Ntjarra Many Hands Art Centre in Mparntwe (Alice Springs). The Aboriginal-owned art centre supports watercolour artists of the Hermannsburg School, who continue to express their connection to land in the tradition of their grandfather and relative, Albert Namatjira.

By continuing his legacy, the exhibiting artists sustain an important piece of living history, but also reimagine their art practice by integrating new influences. Two works in the show are the outcome of a recent collaboration between Western Aranda artists Vanessa Inkamala and 2020 Wynne Prize winner Hubert Pareroultja, and Shannon Alexander Murphy, an Australian artist currently based in Germany.

All artworks for sale.

Image: Ivy Pareroultja, Going into Palm Valley, NT, watercolour, 53 x 23cm, Courtesy of Iltja Ntjarra Art Centre

School Holiday Scavenger Hunt

Welcome history sleuths to the History Trust Scavenger Hunt! The hunt will take you on a journey of discovery across all History Trust museums.

Here at the Migration Museum there are five objects to seek out. Download the Migration Museum Scavenger Hunt and follow the clues or ask for one on your arrival.

Take a photo in front of each object to show you found it. There is also a bonus object you can find, but you must first solve a riddle!

When you’re finished, show your photos to a Museum Officer to receive a stamp on your worksheet. You can also earn a one-hour stamp for your Children’s University Passport to Learning when you complete this activity.

To complete the hunt visit our friends at the South Australian Maritime Museum, National Motor Museum and Centre of Democracy. Download each of the hunts here.

Expressing Ourselves: Being Deaf in South Australia

What is it like to be Deaf in South Australia today? What was it like 50, 100 or 150 years ago? What is Auslan? How do Deaf South Australians create and experience our unique culture? Join us as we share the stories of deaf South Australians from the past, meet those living in the present, and look at what Deaf life might be like in the future.

HOLIDAY FUN: Chatterboxes!

Looking for something unique to do these holidays? The Migration Museum has a number of paper origami chatterboxes to choose from. Young visitors will receive a pre-made chatterbox from the front of house staff, or collect one you can fold at home. Your chatterbox holds clues to the whereabouts of pictured objects located throughout the museum. Choose from four chatterboxes – Looking Back Looking Forward, to learn about the symbols depicted in the community banners or Expressing ourselves: Being Deaf in South Australia. Learn the Auslan alphabet and spell ‘home’, ‘family’, ‘play’ and ‘learn’ with your fingers.

Suitable for ages 5-12 years
Days: every day in the school holidays
Cost: Free!

Folding instructions to make a chatterbox


British Migrants: Instant Australians?

Between 1947 and 1981 nearly 1.5 million Britons migrated to Australia, seduced by promises of sun, surf and a better life. Most of the newcomers came on assisted passages, part of the Australian Government’s pursuit of a white, British, nation. This group of migrants were simultaneously everywhere and invisible, expected to become ‘instant Australians’. But the reality of migration is never that simple.

This exhibition, developed by Museums Victoria, explores the personal experiences and historical and contemporary impacts of British migrants in the postwar decades. The exhibition features stories told by  children, teenagers and families, labourers, adventurers, returnees, musicians, and even a snake dancer – brought to life through compelling digital animation. The exhibition’s historical and personal narrative threads are drawn together with contributions by multicultural and Indigenous commentators and academics to provide the basis for a conversation about British migration and its contemporary meanings, relevance and ongoing impacts.

Exhibition opened 22 February 2020 and has been extended to 6 December 2020.

Museums Victoria and the History Trust of South Australia wish to acknowledge that this exhibition was developed on the lands of the Boonwurrung and Woi Wurrung peoples and is shown on the lands of the Kaurna people. We recognise First People’s continuation of cultures and connections to Country, in the face of over two centuries of migration.