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.

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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5.	Jim Stone, his daughter Penelope and grandsons Liam and Ryan at the Sydney memorial to British child migrants, Coming and Going, at the ANMM, 2015. Photographer Kim Tao/ANMM.

The Barnardo boy from Liverpool

20 Jan 2019

During the 20th century, thousands of unaccompanied British children were sent to far-flung parts of the Commonwealth as part of government-sponsored child migration schemes. One of these was Jim Stone, whose childhood hardships in a farm training institution did not prevent him from coming to love his adopted country.

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Klaas and Aafke Woldring on their wedding day, the Netherlands, 1959. Reproduced courtesy Klaas and Aafke Woldring.

To Australia via the Cape

19 Jan 2019

Teenaged sweethearts Klaas and Aafke Woldring have been together for more than 60 years, with their union taking them from the Netherlands to Australia via South Africa and Zambia.

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Magdalena (Leni) Janic, aged 15, Katscher, Germany, 1940. Reproduced courtesy Annette Janic.

War child

18 Jan 2019

In November 1949, 24-year-old Leni Janic left her German homeland with her husband and baby son, hoping a new life in Australia would help to heal the scars of a childhood plagued by poverty, hardship and the devastating legacy of war.

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Maie Talmet (second from left) at Woodside Hostel with the doll her father gave her on arrival in Adelaide, 1949. Reproduced courtesy Maie Barrow.

As far from Europe as possible

17 Jan 2019

In the aftermath of World War II, many displaced Europeans migrated to far-flung nations, including Australia, in search of a better future. The Talmet family feld Soviet rule to settle in Adelaide, building a new life from very little.

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Going away party for the wedding of Maria and Lorenzo Roder’s daughter, Mary (front row, holding handbag), c 1921. Maria and Lorenzo are in the back row, third and fourth from right. Reproduced courtesy Pauline Lovitt.

La Cella Venezia

16 Jan 2019

Long before the era of mass migration in the 1950s and 60s, a pioneering group of farmers from northern Italy sought a better life in the South Pacific. This is the story of the ill-fated Marquis de Rays expedition in 1880, which would lead to the creation of a prosperous Italian community out of misfortune and adversity.

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Passengers watch from the deck of City of Sydney as Skaubryn burns in the Indian Ocean, 1958. ANMM Collection Gift from Barbara Alysen ANMS0214[005]. Reproduced courtesy International Organisation for Migration

Four ships, one lifeboat

15 Jan 2019

The Norwegian liner Skaubryn was the only vessel lost at sea during the era of post-war migration to Australia, when it caught fire in 1958 with 1,288 people on board, including more than 200 children.

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