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Chinese Museum Melbourne, Victoria

The Museum of Chinese Australian History Inc. (Chinese Museum) is a community-run not-for-profit national institution that was established by the Chinese Australian community in 1985. Its roles are to document, preserve, collect and research the history and culture of Chinese and their descendants in Australia and the history of the relationships formed between Australians and China. In doing so, the Museum endeavours to display and promote this history and culture along with a general appreciation of Chinese arts and culture to as wide an audience as possible in Australia and overseas.

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Contact Information

location
22 Cohen Place Melbourne Victoria (map)
phone
+61 03 9662 2888
Contact

Opening Hours

10 am to 5 pm

Entry Fee

$9 adult, $7 concessions, $21 family (2 Adults, up to 4 children). Children under the age of 6 free. Guided tours available - bookings essential.

Location

22 Cohen Place Melbourne Victoria

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The Museum holds a repository of over 5,000 catalogued artefacts relating to the experiences and cultural life of Chinese and their descendants in Australia. The collection also incorporates objects relating to the experience of Australians of all kinds of ancestry in China. Paper-based and ephemeral material in the collection includes letters, newspaper clippings, manuscripts, certificates, title deeds, business records, photographs, images and other documents. Objects in the collection include clothing, textiles, costumes, furniture, artwork, religious and ceremonial objects, tools and household goods. Within the collection are over fifty oral history recordings with Chinese and their descendants in Australia and other Australians' experience of Chinese in both Australia and China. The collection also includes historic gramophone records and film footage depicting China, Asia and Australia.

Significance

As a national museum, the Chinese Museum is the significant repository of artefacts, which mainly comprise textiles, objects, documents and images, related to the history of Chinese in Australia and their descendants. The collection consists of items of local, state and national significance, which document the social and cultural history of these Australians. Utilising this collection, the Museum undertakes research programs, exhibitions, tours and educational programs about Australia's Chinese history and heritage. The Museum is valued by the people it portrays. It encourages identity and self-esteem and firmly places contemporary Chinese and their descendants in Australia within the documented history of our society.

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20 items

costume boot

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Black boots with white, platform/wedge styrofoam sole, lined with starched interfacing and cardboard

Historical information

This boot was obtained by Charles Quon, probably from Hong Kong, and used by the Young Chinese League in their processions. It is part of a 'fish warrior' costume.

Significance

This boot is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

processional cap

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

A red, purple and blue silk, six paneled hat embroidered with gold braid and adorned with mirrors. Tip of hat has red, silk bobble sewn into place. Each panel is embroidered with gold and orange thread. Among the threads are eight circles of metal around one central, circle. There is a blue band around the bottom and a ribbon tie attached to one panel and it is lined with pale blue cotton fabric.

Historical information

This hat was probably used in both China and Australia during the 1940s as a procession garment. It is linked to the Young Chinese League.

Significance

This hat is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

Inscriptions & Markings

There is a black stamp of a Chinese character on the inside of the hat.

processional vest

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Child's apricot coloured tunic with blue, floral embroidered border. Circular panel with red Chinese characters adorn the front and back and the tunic itself buttons up on right-hand side. Garment has a square neck and is lined with red striped panel.

Historical information

This vest was probably used in both China and Australia during the 1940s as a procession garment. It is linked to the Young Chinese League.

Significance

This vest is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

Inscriptions & Markings

Chinese characters in the centre circle read: '軍' and above this in smaller characters '御林'. The large character means 'soldier'. The smaller characters may refer to the rank of the soldiers

processional vest

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Sleeveless jacket in cream and red silk with red circular panel in centre, containing black, velvet Chinese characters that read 'brave' or 'strong'. A red border runs around the sides with a curled design running underneath the circular panel. Three buttonholes at back of garment bear the same design. There is water damage (red staining) around the sleeve and at the bottom right hand corner.

Historical information

This vest was probably used in both China and Australia during the 1940s as a procession garment. It is linked to the Young Chinese League.

Significance

This vest is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

Inscriptions & Markings

The Chinese character, 勇, in the centre of the panel means 'brave' or 'strong' and is usually associated with soldiers.

costume mask - Young Chinese League costume female mask

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

A costume mask of a female character. She has a headdress of pink flowers, green and silver decorations. She also has a high bun. She has painted eye brows, eye liner, rosy cheeks and lips that are painted red. The eyes has been cut out for the wearer to see out of. There is a strap that runs behinds the mask.

Historical information

This mask was obtained by Charles Quon, probably from Hong Kong, and used by the Young Chinese League in their processions.

Significance

This mask is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

costume tail

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

'Fish' tail that is attached around the waist decorated with gold scales with a blue trim.

Historical information

This costume tail was obtained by Charles Quon, probably from Hong Kong, and used by the Young Chinese League in their processions. This is part of a 'fish warrior' costume.

Significance

This costume tail is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

processional vest

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Cream sleeveless jacket with broad navy border along armhold, body and hem. A thin navy borader with thin red piping inside of it encircles the collar. A circular panel is appliqued on the front and back. The panel contains bright blue and red piping.

Historical information

This vest was probably used in both China and Australia during the 1940s as a procession garment. It is linked to the Young Chinese League.

Significance

This vest is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

Inscriptions & Markings

The Chinese character, 勇, in the centre of the panel means 'brave' or 'strong' and is usually associated with soldiers.

costume mask - Young Chinese League costume male mask

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

A costume mask of a male character. He has a silver headdress with pink, green and yellow decorations. He has black horns, a black face with pink cheeks, red lips and markings on his forehead, nose and chin. The eyes has been cut out for the wearer to see out of. There is a strap that runs behinds the mask.

Historical information

This mask was obtained by Charles Quon, probably from Hong Kong, and used by the Young Chinese League in their processions.

Significance

This mask is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

costume helmet

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Black and gold papier mache helmet with knob on top and black satin rectangle attached behind.

Historical information

This helmet was obtained by Charles Quon, probably from Hong Kong, and used by the Young Chinese League in their processions. This is part of a 'fish warrior' costume.

Significance

This helmet is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

photographic print (framed) - The Young Chinese League Football Team 1947

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Black and white photograph (vintage) with cream frame under glass. Has a cream card mount which provides details of the names the people in the photograph.

Historical information

This photograph was taken of the football team representing the Young Chinese League in 1947.

Significance

This photograph is significant for its links to the Chinese Young Chinese. The Young Chinese League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

Inscriptions & Markings

Front of card title top centre: 'The Young Chinese League Football Team 1947'. Front of card bottom centre: 'Back Row: A.Anguey, T.Gooey, N. Chong, G.Chong, P.Geechoun, R.Yee, H.Chin, O.Kwong, Centre Row: J. Chong, N.Quon, F.A.Chinn, D.Quon, C.Quon, D.Tyshing-F.Gooey, Front Row: L.Quon, T.Wing Young, L.Moy. C.Wing, G.Dan, A.Young, A.Kim.'

drum - Alma Quon & the Joy Belles drum

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Drum with mother of pearl laminex shell, stainless steel fittings and skin membrane.

Historical information

Alma Quon played the drums/piano in the all-girl band the Joy Belles and was its major instigator and leader. It is believed that the band played contemporary western popular music, possibly a jazz/swing style. It was basically a dance band and they played at many Young Chinese League functions. This drum is believed to have been used during the 1950s.

Significance

This drum is significant for its links to the all-girl band 'Alma Quon & the Joy Belle', a girl band during the 1950s and the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

Inscriptions & Markings

Painted on one side "Alma Quon & The Joy Belles" and on the other "Alma Quon".

photographic print (framed) - 'The Young Chinese League Annual Ball in the St Kilda Town Hall, September 21st 1947'

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Black and white photograph (vintage) with cream frame under glass. Has a cream card mount which provides details of the ball and names the people in the photograph.

Historical information

This photograph was taken of the debutantes and their partners presented at the annual debutante ball held at St Kilda Town Hall.

Significance

This photograph is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

Inscriptions & Markings

Front of card title top centre: 'The Young Chinese League Annual Ball at St Kilda Town Hall, 1947'. Bottom centre: DEBUTANTES Back Row: Alex Chun Tie, Vernon Ah Mouy, Maurice Lee, Robert Kwong. Third Row: Harold Chin, Alan Lim Joon, Lennie Quon, Eric Moy, Edward Chin. Second Row: June Lee Gow, Evelyn Law, Annamae Young, Mrs L.M.Wang, June O'Hoy, Rose lee, Audrey Lau. Front Row: Jean Wing Dann, Marjorie Kwong, Connie Ham.'

costume overskirt

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Decorative overskirt in three leaf-shaped panels decorated in gold scales with blue trim.

Historical information

This decorative overskirt was obtained by Charles Quon, probably from Hong Kong, and used by the Young Chinese League in their processions. This is part of a 'fish warrior' costume.

Significance

This decorative overskirt is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

costume headscarf

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Light blue satin headscarf or kerchief.

Historical information

This headscarf was obtained by Charles Quon, probably from Hong Kong, and used by the Young Chinese League in their processions. It is part of a 'fish warrior' costume.

Significance

This headscarf is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

processional upper garment

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Upper garment with fish scale decoration in gold with blue trim and a smallstainless steel/chrome half spheres attached to the chest. The sleeves have decorated cuffs and small shoulder 'wings'.

Historical information

This upper garment was obtained by Charles Quon, probably from Hong Kong, and used by the Young Chinese League in their processions. This is part of a 'fish warrior' costume.

Significance

This upper garment is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

trophy

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Metal (silver-plated?) football trophy presented by Liu Tungwei, Consul, Republic of China 15 September 1955.

Historical information

This football trophy was presented to the 'best players' of the Young Chinese League football team by the Liu Tung-Wei, Consul of the Republic of China on 15 September 1955.

Significance

This trophy is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

exhibition panel - Young Chinese League debutante set 1938

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Laminated black and white photographic print (copy print) on card.

Historical information

This photograph was taken of the debutantes and their partners presented at the annual debutante ball.

Significance

This photograph is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

Inscriptions & Markings

Front of card, top centre: 'Young Chinese League debutante set 1938'. Front of card, bottom centre. 'Back row: Claude WONG HEE, Jack GOON, Arthur WHEE, Gordon NAM, Gordon LOUEY, Owen YOUNG, Stanley AH MOUY, Harold KONG, Dennis QUON, G TYE DIN, Harold MEW. Next Row: Linda YOUNG, Doris WHEE, Rose YIN, Phyllis POON, Violet TOW, Thelma WING JAN, Kim SHEE, Violet LOUEY, Eunice CHIN, Edna KONG, Betty WHEE, Jean LIM, Norma YOUNG'. Back of card, top right hand corner. Number '1938' has been written in blue pen. Sticker text 'P735 (another version = P587) 93.2.1'.

costume trousers

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Pale blue satin/silk trousers with elastic waist and ankles.

Historical information

These trousers were obtained by Charles Quon, probably from Hong Kong, and used by the Young Chinese League in their processions. These are part of a 'fish warrior' costume.

Significance

These trousers are significant for their links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

costume belt

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

Blue and gold belt with eleven studs running along the centre line.

Historical information

This belt was obtained by Charles Quon, probably from Hong Kong, and used by the Young Chinese League in their processions. It is part of a 'fish warrior' costume.

Significance

This belt is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

newsletter - The Young Chinese League newsletter

Chinese Museum, Melbourne

One page mimeograph copy of newsletter for members of the Young Chinese League. The newsletter covers both sides of the sheet.

Historical information

According to Les Youie (the editor) this is an example of one of the first newsletters produced by the Young Chinese League for its members.

Significance

This newsletter is significant for its links to the Chinese Young League. The League was formally established on 4 October 1932 to to promote free social intercourse and goodwill among its members and their mutual improvement. Membership was open to all persons, with one or both parents or grandparents born in China. Wives of Chinese members were permitted as members with the same privileges. It was a significant social organisation for Chinese-Australians in Melbourne in the mid to late twentieth century.

Inscriptions & Markings

Handwritten in blue on the top middle is: 'SAMPLE' and in black: 'Dec 1955'.