From across the sea - the museum's migration program explores our cultural heritage.

The arrival of waves of more than ten million migrants by boat and plane is one of the major themes in Australia’s history, and a foundation narrative of modern Australia, infusing our country with more than 200 different cultural and linguistic traditions. Was your family among them? 

Nearly half of all Australians were born overseas or have at least one parent born overseas. Migrants have contributed enormously to the making of modern Australia - we believe museums sharing their stories can increase our understanding of the unique challenges many migrants face.

Image: Group of migrants on the deck of MV Castel Verde, Italy, 1950–1957. ANMM Collection Gift from Barbara Alysen. Reproduced courtesy International Organisation for Migration. ANMM Collection ANMS02014[024]

Explore their stories:

Learn more about our migration activities

Past exhibitions and events (.pdf 181kb)

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Migration Achievements Report (.pdf 3MB)

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Migration Blogs

Discover our shared histories through these compelling migration stories.

Annarosa Coluccio (third from left) with her parents (left) and mother-in-law (fourth from left) at her proxy marriage in Roccella Jonica, Calabria, Italy, 1956. Reproduced courtesy Isabella Coluccio

Until we meet again: An Italian proxy bride's story

22 Aug 2019

Annarosa Coluccio (née Bova) was one of 12,000 young Italian women who arrived in Australia as proxy brides between 1945 and 1976. Confronted by vast cultural and linguistic barriers, she eventually settled in with the love of her husband and the friendship of their new Australian neighbours.

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Johanna Goggins is one of the Irish famine orphans who is inscribed on the Welcome Wall.  Image: Kim Tao/ANMM.

Remembering the Irish famine orphans

17 Mar 2019

Today some 80 million people worldwide claim Irish ancestry, including an estimated seven million Australians. For St Patrick’s Day, we take a look at the story of the destitute Irish orphans who arrived in Australia 170 years ago at the height of the Great Famine.

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Threads of migration roof projection in 2019. Image: ANMM.

Threads of migration

26 Jan 2019

Textiles are an evocative symbol of migration, memory and cultural identity. Our new roof projection, Threads of migration, illuminates the museum’s rooftop with a rich patchwork of immigrant stories.

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Şükran and Halit Adasal signing their marriage documents, with Şükran’s mother Sultan Salman at far right, Adana, Turkey, 1966. Reproduced courtesy Hale Adasal.

Anatolia to Australia

23 Jan 2019

Turkish migrant¸ Sükran Adasal was just 19 years old when she and her husband Halit embarked on a belated honeymoon to an island continent on the other side of the world. Travelling under the Australia–Turkey Migration Agreement, the young couple’s thoughts were filled with hope for a new future.

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The O’Keefe family at Bonbeach, Victoria, 1956. Left to right: Annie O’Keefe, Geraldine, John O’Keefe, Peter and Mary. Photographer Neil Murray. Reproduced courtesy National Archives of Australia: A1501, A429/5.

The case of Mrs O’Keefe

22 Jan 2019

In the 1940s, a Dutch East Indies family who had been evacuated to Australia during World War II found themselves under threat of deportation. The infamous court case that ensued was an important step towards overturning controversial legislation banning non-European immigrants.

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Paul Gock Quay in Sydney, c 1910. Reproduced courtesy Paul Kwok.

The Gocks of Middle Mountain

21 Jan 2019

Paul Kwok belongs to the 25th generation of a family that can trace its ancestry back to the early 13th century, before the Mongolian leader Kublai Khan founded the Yuan dynasty and conquered China. Paul registered his grandfather, Gock Quay, on the Welcome Wall to honour the first member of his family to set foot in Australia in 1890.

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