Citation O’Reilly C & Parish N (2017) Suitcases, keys and handkerchiefs: how are objects being used to collect and tell migrant stories in Australian museums?. Museums and Social Issues, 12 (2), pp. 99-114. https://doi.org/10.1080/15596893.2017.1386015
Abstract This article examines the particular challenges that are associated with collecting and exhibiting objects to represent immigrant narratives. Everyday objects play a crucial role in migration history and curators need to capitalise on the representational possibilities offered by these seemingly banal objects when conceiving exhibitions. This analysis concentrates on strategies used by Australian museums - from large federal institutions to state-based organisations as well as smaller community-based and council-run museums - as migration history is core to the settler history of Australia. In critically examining how objects are collected, this article discusses what it means for museums to engage with and tell stories of migration today and into the future. The study reveals the diversity of approaches at play and what lessons can be learnt from the study of how curators and institutions themselves are striving to engage with a diverse audience in their collections and exhibtions.