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Celebrating Italian Australian grandmothers

2 Jul, 2020

Bonegilla Migrant Experience’s latest exhibition will leave visitors with a fresh appreciation of the role that nonna plays in our lives and in our community.

Nonna, Italian for grandmother, is someone special in most people’s lives and this exhibition showcases the role of the Italian Australian Nonne through historic and contemporary photographs.

Nonne, Images Through Generations is on loan from CO.AS.IT. Italian Historical Society and Museo Italiano.

This evocative exhibition draws on the remarkable photographic collection of CO.AS.IT’s Italian Historical Society, as well as contemporary images and stories specifically collected from members of the Italian community.

Whether it is a long distance or much-loved nonna, a surrogate nonna, master chef or great story-teller, we all have or have had a nonna.

Come take a look at the 16 exhibition panels that feature photos like the one of Nonna Sebastiana in her garden with granddaughter Angela, preparing home-grown tomatoes for bottling, taken in Richmond, 1957.

During the years in which Bonegilla operated, more than 350,000 Italian migrants came to Australia.

CO.AS.IT. Italian Historical Society & Museo Italiano Manager Elizabeth Triarico said having a nonna in one’s life is special.

“Those children who migrated to Australia in the post-World War II period know this. They felt the absence of this special connection deeply,” she said.

“Today, with the new wave of young Italian immigrants to Australia, we have come full circle.

“The exhibition acknowledges these nonne and the diversity of their experiences.”

  Nonna Angelina shows her granddaughter Nadine how to knit, whilst her grandson Alessandro looks on. Shepparton 1993. (Picture supplied by CO.AS.IT Italian Historical Society Collection)

Nonne, Images Through Generations is part of the Multicultural Museums Victoria 2018 inaugural ‘Grandmothers’ project.

The project explored the accomplishments, tradition, wisdom and the fundamental familial role of the Chinese, Greek, Muslim, Jewish and Italian grandmothers, through exhibitions and accompanying events programs.

Multicultural Museums Victoria (MMV) was the recipient of the 2018 Museums Australia (Victoria) Award for Medium Museums.

MMV received the honour for its inaugural exhibition, ‘Grandmothers’ which launched in May, 2018.

MMV was commended for its unique alliance between five museums in Melbourne – the Chinese Museum, Hellenic Museum, Co.As.It Italian Historical Society & Museo Italiano, Islamic Museum of Australia and the Jewish Museum of Australia.

Bonegilla Migrant Experience is proud to host the exhibition, which is on display from July 4 to February 1 in the Tudor Hall.

The display will be open to visitors during Bonegilla Migrant Experience’s operating hours - 10am to 4pm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.