Migration & Cultural Diversity

The Migration and Cultural Diversity Collection documents and interprets the migration and settlement experiences of Victorians since the 1830s and, consequently, the political, social and cultural histories of Victoria and Australia as it relates to migration, cultural diversity, identity and multiculturalism. Collections relating to individual and family migration stories are one of the primary ways by which migration experiences are documented. Though the collection's scope has broadened to reflect the evolution of immigration policies and processes, public protest and debate, notions of personal, national and cultural identities. The growing collection of documents relating to Australian immigration policy, promotion and processing, provides a critical bridge between the personal narratives and the narratives of nations. Community activity relating to migration is also represented, including cultural organisations formed to maintain cultural traditions, government and community support and administrative groups, and protest and political movements, for and against immigration and multiculturalism. Citizenship, racism and discrimination, population and social equity are also represented.


The Migration and Cultural Diversity Collection officially commenced in 1990, with collecting and programming activity increasing dramatically after the establishment of the Immigration Museum in the Old Customs House in 1998. Today with over 6,000 items it is the largest object collection in Australia that broadly reflects the history of migration to Victoria.

Much of the collection documents the material culture relating to the migration experiences of individuals and families; consequently, many objects tend to be personal, domestic and work-related in nature. Post-World War II UK and European migration experiences are prominently represented, with modest cultural representation from Asia, Africa and Latin and South America.

The most significant community collection developed through a formal partnership is the MV Italian Historical Society Collection, with more than 420 items documenting Italian experiences of migration and settlement in Victoria. While the immigration policy and process documents collection is growing into a comprehensive snapshot of the personal and bureaucratic nature of migration. There are also a number of significant items and collections which are shown below.