Award for best exhibition of 2011: On their own – Britain’s child migrants

Last Friday, the Australian National Maritime Museum won the Exhibitions & Public Engagement award for On their own – Britain’s child migrants at the 2011 IMAGinE Awards.

ANMM IMAGinE Award 2011

Mary Louise Williams, Director ANMM, Kim Tao, Curator ANMM accepting IMAGinE award from Roxanne Lambie

Mary Louise, ANMM director says:

“The museum is very proud to win an award for this exhibition. It’s an example where collaboration between museums can work so well and at the same time have such a connection with the community.”

The exhibition opened at the museum last year and is now touring around Australia. It’s due to open at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne on 13 October.

The exhibition presents the stories of former child migrants and the child migration schemes that saw more than 100,000 children sent from Britain to Canada, Australia and other Commonwealth countries from the 1860s, up until the 1960s.  The children were sent to countries like Australia by charitable and religious organisations, with government support, in the belief that their lives would improve, and that they would provide much-needed labour and increase the population.

Few were orphans; many came from families who were unable to care for them. The lives of these children changed dramatically and fortunes varied. Some succeeded in creating new futures. Others suffered lonely, brutal childhoods. All experienced disruption and separation from their family and homeland.

Child migration schemes received criticism from the outset, yet continued until the 1960s. Formal apologies were made by the Australian Government in 2009 and the British Government in 2010, but many former child migrants and their families are still coming to terms with their experiences

An important part of the exhibition is the online portal that includes a message board for former child migrants and their family members to record their own memories about their experiences. We invite you to visit the website:

Stewart Lee

In 1955 four-year-old Stewart Lee was sent to Australia by the Fairbridge Society Photograph courtesy Sydney Lee

This exhibition is a collaboration between the Australian National Maritime Museum and National Museums Liverpool, UK.

The IMAGinE Awards are presented by Museums & Galleries NSW, Museums Australia (NSW), Regional Public Galleries NSW and Museums Australia (ACT) .

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  1. Pingback: Apologies, anniversaries and hidden histories | Australian National Maritime Museum

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