Croatian Viewpoint
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10th Anniversary 'Croatian Immigration Museum Project'

Ten years ago on the 20th September 1999 the Australian Croatian Congress Victoria launched their exhibit at Museum Victoria's Immigration Museum in the Schiavello Access Gallery. The exhibit entitled: 'Croatian Settlement in Victoria: The Untold Story' opened after nearly two years of research and committee meetings with the museum staff in the city of Melbourne. A handful of dedicated volunteers on the Croatian Immigration Museum Project committee (C.I.M.P.) had been working since the beginning of 1998 to develop the theme of the exhibit. After ten years it is fitting to give credit where it is due and to move on to the next project, a permanent exhibit.
The 1999 ACC-Vic. Immigration Museum exhibit and 'Room Brochure' held inside a mainstream Australian venue was a pioneering event in Australian-Croatian history in Victoria. At last the Croatian-born people had a golden opportunity to showcase their proud and unique community history and culture to the Australian public. Importantly, this valuable opportunity occurred when the Republic of Croatia was in its early years of recognition and its traditional community in Australia included many new refugees.
Opening Week, Immigration Museum Melbourne
Many Croatian folkloric festivals and exhibits at Croatian clubs, and a robust soccer presence in Australia provided us with a backdrop from which to proceed. However it was the book by M. Tkalcevic, "Croats in Australia: an Information and Resource Guide" 1989, the first of its kind in Australia in the English language, which provided me, as the Coordinator and writer of the exhibit, with a starting point for the research undertaken at the Canberra archives and around Australia. Condensing the wealth of material into a format and text for the Museum Victoria's 'Room Brochure' was a daunting task, consuming thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours and requiring attendance at countless meetings.
J.Marinovic at Canberra War Memorial, 1998
The success of the exhibit, a record of which is kept at the Museum Victoria within their library and computer research rooms was the result of volunteer work by a dedicated loyal few between January 1998 and the end of 1999. References to the Museum Exhibit appeared around the world including "Hrvatski Iseljenicki Zbornik" in 2000, "Dokumenti O Hrvatima Viktorije".
After ten years it's time that credit is given where it is due for the exhibit, to the Australian Croatian Congress Victoria and its Immigration Museum committee. For me, the research I undertook, as Coordinator and writer of the C.I.M.P. provided an untold story of achievements and discrimination which shattered many 'Anglo/Saxon' myths about Australian history and multiculturalism. Over the coming months I will be analyzing much of the research material before handing it to the current project for a permanent and independent community Immigration Museum in Melbourne.
The Australian Croatian Congress Victorian Branch Exhibit's success will be judged in the long term by its legacy and not only on the two month Exhibit itself for example, its product, the 'Room Brochure' has been on sale at the Museum Victoria Immigration Museum for years.
Jean Lunt Marinovic
September 2009
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