By Brendan Rees
Melbourne’s famous Museum of Chinese Australian History is celebrating after being awarded $15,000 to help launch a podcast about Chinese-Australian family stories.
It is one of 52 projects that will share the $350,000 Local History Grants, a program run by Public Record Office Victoria to support community and history organisations to preserve, record and share Victoria’s local history.
Museum of Chinese Australian History CEO Mark Wang said they were excited to receive the grant which would help develop their new podcast called Chinese Australian Whispers.
It will explore the historical lives of families with Chinese backgrounds in Victoria and reflect on recent family experiences across the state.
“Receiving a grant to contextualise snippets of history by connecting them to descendant families enables us to continue to join the pieces of the community jigsaw together for us to see the bigger picture,” Mr Wang said.
“It’s great that the value of our heritage is recognised and supported by the Victorian Government in this way.”
Mr Wang said while the lockdown had forced the closure of the museum, there was a “hive of activity” happening behind the scenes as it transitioned online.
This included broadcasting an eight-part video series titled “Who We Are” which was launched in February by the Australian embassy in Beijing that attracted more than 340,000 views on social media in China.
The museum has also been streaming an online educational program called “Digital Cultural Adventures” which it trialled in Victorian Schools last year.
“Currently, we are establishing new programs that will be promoted to NSW schools and eventually to all schools across Australia. This could increase our schools’ audience exponentially,” Mr Wang said.
He said 2022 looked to be an “optimistic year for the Chinese Museum,” as it hoped to widen its audience footprint, “thinking nationally not just locally, and undertaking activities that can reach audiences via many different mediums”.
“The Chinese Museum has a cultural business that is about the connectivity of people, neighbourhoods and communities through history, culture and heritage and this can be activated outside the museum’s four walls,” Mr Wang said.
The Museum is located at a historic building in Cohen Place, which was built in 1890 as a furniture factory by the Cohen Brothers when Chinese and Jewish furniture makers proliferated in Chinatown in the late 1800s.
Government Services Minister Danny Pearson congratulated all this year’s successful projects which he said, “reflect the diversity, innovation and creativity of community groups and local historians across Victoria”. •