“Everybody… it’s going to get LOUD!”
So warned Cairns Museum Manager, Susan Gibson, as CADCAI’s lion dancers and musicians geared up to begin their performance. Celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Metal Rat, and the opening of the latest temporary exhibition, dancers made their way through the museum and the crowd, bringing blessings, energy and great joy to this event.
“Two Worlds” is a collaborative exhibition developed by Cairns Museum and CADCAI. It tells the story of Chinese Australians in Cairns from World War II to the 1960s. Drawing on oral histories conducted with five of Cairns’ Chinese elders, the exhibition showcases candid family photographs from the Chinese community and uses quotes to bring them to life. The interviews explored the challenges these elders faced as they navigated through worlds of tradition and modernity, of how they challenged and embraced these contradictions, and of how they overcame discrimination with strength, humour and determination.
As MDO, I also value this exhibition as an exemplar of great community engagement. This is the second exhibition they have co created for Chinese New Year, and illustrates the benefits of shared knowledge, resources and facilities, and a commitment to explore and present new ideas and local stories.
And, yes, it was loud. Kids zoomed around the displays. Adults hastily prepared red envelopes as offerings to the lions. The balcony was full of people catching up on local news and sweating in the afternoon heat. People were everywhere, and the museum hummed with life.
In June 1937, Mossman celebrated the opening of it’s new shire hall with an Opening Ball. Seventy five years later, Cairns Regional Council will celebrate the anniversary of this Queensland Heritage Register-listed building (and its refurbishment this year) with an old time dance and a small exhibition on 22 June 2012 .
Built as part of the Queensland Government Unemployment Relief Scheme during the 1930s, Mossmand Shire Hall was designed by notable north Queensland architectural firm, Hill and Taylor. Their work can be seen in a number of buildings in Mossman, and in many towns across the region.
In preparation for the exhibition, Council staff in Mossman have been busy talking to locals and gathering photographs, newspaper articles, dresses, awards and other Hall-related memorabilia. The material will be used to showcase the buildings history and community use. Exhibitions that draw on community artefacts, anecdotes and images are a great way of exploring the significance of heritage buildings.