Chinese Art Exhibition Catalogue c.1941

Organised by the Brighton Hostesses Air Force Club and the Victorian Chinese Women’s Relief Fund, this 32pp original catalogue was produced for an exhibition at Myer Emporium, Mural Hall Lounge in June 1941. The 376 exhibition pieces described in the catalogue were lent by individual donors - some who were notable Melbourne collectors. The catalogue provides a list of prominent Melbournians, both Chinese and non-Chinese citizens, who participated in charity. It’s a snapshot of Melbourne wartime life of the 1940s. It epitomises the public sympathy towards the Japanese invasion of China and reflects the strong interest in Chinese culture and art by the Melbourne establishment of the time. We are grateful to Mr Stan Chang, Mr Michael Lanyon, and Mr John Griffiths for responding to the call for donation to purchase this catalogue.

George Chen, the owner of Golden Orchids restaurant, donated these materials to the museum. The Golden Orchids, located along Bourke Street in Melbourne’s Chinatown, served Malaysian and Chinese dishes to customers for decades until it permanently closed its doors in 2018. These materials from the restaurant help document the diversity of cuisines and the multicultural flavours available through different food establishments in Australia. We are grateful to Mr Chen for his contributions to our collections.

Till Family. L-R: Grandson Norman Jarm, Grace Till, Selena Till (nee Anguey), Roy Till, and Henry Till. Circa 1930

David Jarm has donated 11 digital copies of historical photographs from his family’s photo collection to the museum’s research archives. These photographs feature the history of Mr Jarm’s Great Grandfather- Henry (Lew) Till and his family as well as provide insights into the operation of a Chinses Mission Church on Queensberry Street and the trading activities of Chinese fruit merchants in Melbourne in the early 1900s.

Sydney-based graphic designer Joy Li’s The Immigrant Game of Life —created as part of her university project- Li General Store in 2017. Li’s satirical approach does not merely visualise cultural stereotyping and social expectations but also confronts them as a means to convey the challenges and experiences of migrants.

To know more about Joy Li's work, please visit:

The museum is deeply grateful to Ms Noela Foote for donating a cloth purse, a card-mounted photograph of the Lee-Moy sisters and a Chinese doll to the museum’s main collection. These objects tell interesting stories about the Lew Shing family, provide a glimpse into Australian toy culture, and document the involvement of Australians of Chinese ancestry in the Australian dance and theatre industry. 

These two stereoscopic images were taken in 1901 during the parades held in Melbourne to celebrate the opening of the First Federal Parliament of Australia and the visit of the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall and York. The first stereo card shows the procession near the Chinese Citizens’ Arch that used to stand along Swanston Street. The second one depicts the Queen Victoria Arch on the corner of Collins and Russell Streets. Chinese symbols, dragons, and hanging lanterns adorned the Chinese Arch. In the centre was an inscription that read, “Welcome by the Chinese Citizens”.

We wish to thank Mr Isaac Hermann for this generous donation. These objects provide insights into the contributions of the Chinese community in Melbourne and their role in shaping Australia as a multicultural nation.