Helen Macpherson Smith Trust

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Case Study: Museums Victoria

ProjectStation Pier: Gateway to a new life exhibition



ProgramPast Programs | Arts and Culture

This grant was approved under a previous grants policy
Building organisational capacity Develop and deliver a unique permanent exhibition and accompanying education program.
Extending opportunity Give voice to the living memories and post-war immigration experiences of thousands of Victorians.
Collaboration and partnership Victorian Multicultural Commission, Ethnic Communities Council, Victorian Government, Visions of Australia, National Archives, Australian Customs Service, Victorian and National libraries, ethnic communities.

Temporary exhibition becomes permanent museum feature after overwhelming response from Victorians

The universal story of departure, the excitement of the journey and the anxiety of arrival for post-war migrants presented emotive ways of celebrating Australia’s immigration history.

Image Visitors at the Immigration Museum's Station Pier exhibition. Photo: James Greer


  • Station Pier: Gateway to a new life was an outstanding success. Launched in October 2004 and scheduled for 12 months, it was extended until mid-2010 due to such strong visitor interest. Today it has been incorporated into the permanent exhibitions at the Immigration Museum.
  • Over 600,000 people saw the exhibition at the Immigration Museum and 100,720 people saw the travelling exhibition in cities and regions across Australia.
  • Station Pier: Gateway to a new life was awarded the Museum Industry Recognition Award in 2005
  • The exhibition recognised the life-changing decision to come to a distant and little known country. It narrated the hopes, fears, journey and arrival of post-war migrants to Australia, and the significance that Australian ports played in the cultural history of Australia.
  • Through personal memorabilia, stories and heritage maritime collections, the evocative exhibition related a story for all Victorians about the significance of Station Pier as a gateway to a new life. It allowed people to reconcile loss of family networks, familiar environments and nationality, and celebrate new life, opportunity, growth and contribution.
  • The exhibition included indigenous history and previously undocumented personal histories, and provided a link between many diverse communities and broader Australian history.

Website: museumsvictoria.com.au


“The project resulted in many firsts for the Immigration Museum. Today, the exhibition continues online for people to learn and share their stories which are a significant part of Australia’s migration history.” Padmini Sebastian, Manager, Immigration Museum