What’s in a building? – migrants across the Channel in the National Museum of Immigration History (Paris, France)

Whoever thought of siting the Cite National de l’Histoire de l’Immigration (National Museum of Immigration History – CNHI, Paris) in the former Palace of the Colonies posed a challenge for the curators. It is undoubtedly an impressive Art Deco building from the 1930s. Intricate naked or half naked stone figures, working cocoa, coffee, cotton or … Continue reading What’s in a building? – migrants across the Channel in the National Museum of Immigration History (Paris, France)

Lovely Lampedusa and PortoM – M for Mediterranean, Migration, Memory or Militarisation?

A mural of faces in different hues of blue, green, red, yellow and white painted by Amnesty. Abandoned boats, on spare ground overlooking the port – three from Libya and two from Tunisia. A cluster of coastguard boats nestled against the harbour wall, designed to rescue people more easily from the sea. In the distance … Continue reading Lovely Lampedusa and PortoM – M for Mediterranean, Migration, Memory or Militarisation?

Art and anarchists at Asinitas and Italy’s National Museum of Emigration

We stand in two lines facing each other in a hall in Garbatella, a garden suburb built for the working classes during the Fascist era. The hall is used by Asinitas, a charity working with migrants, that follows the enlightened methods of such educationalists as Montessori and Cemea. “Buongiorno,” we sing, orchestrated by Carolina. “Buongiorno, … Continue reading Art and anarchists at Asinitas and Italy’s National Museum of Emigration

‘The hurt can linger’ – uncovering child migrant stories

The pressed flowers and leaves, picked by Bob and his mother when she came to visit him in a Hampshire orphanage, are numbered and named.  ‘ The most precious thing I had were my scrapbooks,’ reads the caption in the Children’s Journeys  gallery in Sydney’s Maritime Museum. ‘ It was the only link with my mother.’ … Continue reading ‘The hurt can linger’ – uncovering child migrant stories

‘AND STILL I RISE’: Young refugees rap at Te Papa

Patrick from Sudan invites me to ‘Come and see what we’ve been doing.’  Young refugees, from over 20 ethnic backgrounds, have explored their experiences of coming to, and settling in, New Zealand through, ‘writing, film, photography and all kinds of artwork.’ I accept Patrick’s invitation and enter the Mixing Room on the fourth floor of … Continue reading ‘AND STILL I RISE’: Young refugees rap at Te Papa

Multiculturalism under the microscope in Melbourne Museums (2) – the Immigration Museum or If I was white

I walk along City Road, across the river and towards the restored Old Customs House, now the Museum of Immigration. It’s easy to find. Large banners advertising Identity, Yours, Mine, Ours, with portraits of men and women representing multiracial Australia, hang over the elegant façade. Identity, Yours, Mine, Ours is the title of the much-praised … Continue reading Multiculturalism under the microscope in Melbourne Museums (2) – the Immigration Museum or If I was white