A DISPLAY of treasured keepsakes that migrants have brought with them across the world, alongside familiar mementos of holidays, love tokens and artworks that turn the idea of a souvenir on its head, form the basis of a new exhibition at the Migration Museum.
Greetings from… the Power of Souvenirs showcases a range of intriguing objects and their importance in people’s lives.
Visitors can snap a selfie with a giant snow dome or create their own digital postcards to send to friends. All selfie and digital postcard entries will go into the draw to win a $4000 travel voucher for a tour by Peregrine Travel Centre SA.
The exhibition questions the common understanding of souvenirs as meaningless pieces of rubbish and instead establishes their influential role in memory-making and identity.
The fact that some memories are painful makes them no less precious.
Recent research by exhibition curator Nikki Sullivan has uncovered the story of an intricately carved tobacco pipe that was treasured by ex-serviceman Edward Rees Harry.
In 1916 Harry, aged 21, left Adelaide on the troopship HMAT Seang Bee along with other members of the 5th Pioneer Battalion.
During his time on the Western Front, he formed close ties with members of his troop, and this was commemorated in the form of a pipe that was painstakingly decorated by one of the men with whom he faced the horrors of war. Today this moving object is part of the Migration Museum collection and can be seen on display for the first time as part of the exhibition.
Objects which migrants bring on their journeys have often been overlooked when thinking about souvenirs, but Greetings from… demonstrates how crucial they are to maintaining a connection with homelands.
Curator Amy Dale says that one of the highlights of the exhibition is a nineteenth-century loving cup, which was gifted to a young Jewish girl as she left England to sail to Sydney in 1851. “It really is a miracle that this beautiful item survived the journey”, she said.
The exhibition runs until July 28 at the Migration Museum, 82 Kintore Ave, Adelaide. Open daily 10am – 5pm. Free admission.