Grandmothers, Nonna Angelina

Multicultural Museums Victoria first project, ‘Grandmothers’ has officially opened

Multicultural Museums Victoria (MMV), comprised of the Chinese Museum, Co.As.It Italian Historical Society & Museo Italiano, Hellenic Museum, Islamic Museum of Australia and the Jewish Museum of Australia, has officially launched its first major exhibition project, ‘Grandmothers’, with all five exhibitions opening to the public yesterday.

A beautifully unique project, ‘Grandmothers’ is a celebration of the role and significance of grandmothers in culturally diverse communities in Melbourne, both historically and today.

Through striking portraits and artworks, recipes, tales of war, survival and migration, language, religious texts and traditional objects, concurrent exhibitions at the five ethnic museums position grandmothers at the forefront of family and community life.

Visitors can now attend each museum and learn about nonne, yiayias, wàipós, jeddah and bubbes, discovering both similarities and differences between communities and traditions, and developing a greater understanding and appreciation of their own grandmothers.

Alongside the five exhibitions (details below), there is a fascinating series of joint events, including a multicultural grandmothers cook-off on Sunday 1 July at the Hellenic Museum, a grandmothers-inspired Art Workshop for kids at ArtPlay on Sunday 10 June, and four events in partnership with The ARC Centre of Excellence for the History of Emotions, including a sand-casting workshop, a concert, and a symposium on what it means to be a grandmother.

The five ‘Grandmothers’ exhibitions include:

Wàipó 外婆Chinese Museum, until 16 August
Wàipó 外婆 chronicles the traditions and changing roles of grandmothers in China and in Australia through specially commissioned artworks by Nicholas Chin, Emilia Johari, Yinghong Li, Tammy Wong Hulbert, Judy Leong and Xiao Yu Bai.

Nonne: images through generations – Co.As.It Italian Historical Society & Museo Italiano, until 24 August
Nonne: images through generations explores the role of the Italian-Australian grandmother in Australian society, the contributions that she makes in the everyday life of her family and in the transmission of customs and traditions to the next generation.

Yiayia – Hellenic Museum, until 5 August
Yiayia, gives voice to Greek women and their stories, from childhood, to adulthood, to grandmotherhood and older age. From family heirlooms to filmed interviews and family photographs, the Yiayia exhibition resonates with visitors of all ages and cultures, reflecting a range of differing experiences, challenging the idea that there is only one course for a woman’s life to take.

Our Grandmothers – Islamic Museum of Australia, until 18 August
Honouring the ‘mothers behind our mothers’, the Islamic Museum’s Our Grandmothers exhibition pays deference to the essence of Muslim grandmothers by displaying portraits sourced from Melbourne’s Muslim communities, accompanied by stories, quotes and recipes.

Love & Legacy – Jewish Museum of Australia, until 28 October
Love & Legacy explores the diversity of Jewish grandmothers. Through film and portraits, Jewish women from diverse backgrounds, tell their stories, complemented by objects from the Museum’s collection. Love & Legacy looks at the many ways cultural knowledge, shared histories and family traditions are kept alive from one generation to the next.


About Multicultural Museums Victoria

Multicultural Museums Victoria (MMV) is an alliance of five ethnic museums united by a common, underlying mission – to promote awareness, understanding and appreciation of Victoria’s diverse cultural heritage. Set against the backdrop of one of the world’s great multicultural cities, the five museums work together to share their rich cultures and present exciting joint programs and events, undertaking projects of a scale they would not be able to undertake alone.

Image credit: Nonna Angelina shows her granddaughter Nadine how to knit, whilst her grandson Alessandro looks on. Shepparton, 1993. CO.AS.IT Italian Historical Society Collection