First objects arrive for the world premiere of Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition

Nelson Mandela's Madiba Shirts, Walking Cane and Muhammad Ali Boxing Glove arrive at Melbourne Museum.

Nelson Mandela ©Keith Bernstein

The highly anticipated world premiere of Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition opens at the prestigious Melbourne Museum on Saturday 22nd September 2018. Produced by iEC Exhibitions, TEG Live and Museums Victoria, in full collaboration with The Nelson Mandela Foundation of South Africa as their only official global exhibition, this brand-new, world-class exhibition will exclusively open in Australia before commencing on a 5-year worldwide museum tour from 2019.

The producers are delighted to announce the first of many original objects to be featured in Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition to coincide the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth today. This exhibition will be a world first, with a rich collection of artifacts, documents and personal items expertly curated to share the story of Mandela’s rich and colourful life.

Tickets for Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition will go on sale at 9am today, Wednesday 18th July via

Some of the confirmed original objects that will feature in Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition include the boxing glove signed and gifted by Muhammad Ali to Mandela, who was an avid boxing fan and met Ali several times after 1990. The shoes and walking cane used by Mandela in his senior years will be among the key objects to feature in the exhibition as well as some of his favourite 'Madiba shirts' that brightened the corridors of power.

The Pass Laws Act of 1952 required all black South Africans over the age of 16 to carry a passbook and was brutally enforced as part of the apartheid regime until it’s abolition in 1986. In 1960, Nelson Mandela burnt his passbook following the massacre of anti-passbook protesters at Sharpeville. An original and rare passbook that belonged to a young man and was signed by Nelson Mandela will be on display at the exhibition. This is an extremely rare object as few people cared to hold on to their passbooks once the pass laws had been abolished.

The exhibition will also feature a deep and rich archive of images, film and sound recordings including film footage of what is believed to be the earliest film of Nelson Mandela being interviewed during a break in the 'Treason Trial' of 1956-1961. Mandela was one of 156 defendants, along with members of all other anti-apartheid movements, in a trial that was designed to dismantle the People’s Congress Alliance and attack the Freedom Charter.

Providing a rare and touching glimpse into the personal life of Nelson Mandela, this official Mandela exhibition has been curated into ten galleries in the Touring Hall at Melbourne Museum and explores his difficult and sometimes controversial life fighting for equality and democracy.

Expertly curated by a team of Museums Victoria staff and headed by iEC Exhibitions' Samantha Heywood, the exhibition will feature personal artefacts and documents, many of which have never-before left South Africa, offering an insight into the world that shaped Mandela’s journey from the rural Transkei to the political world stage.

The 800m2 exhibition will include outstanding artworks, original artefacts and genuine replications of rare content from the Nelson Mandela archives, including manuscripts from his writings in prison, taking visitors through a multi-sensory, interactive, educational and emotive journey of Mandela's 95 years of life.

Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley said, "This incredible exhibition will give visitors of all ages an insight into the man behind the legend. This exhibition has opened up the Mandela archives, bringing out many priceless items which have never before left South Africa. We are honoured that the exhibition will have its world premiere in Melbourne, it shows the global standing of our museum and is another example of Victoria leading the way."

Tony Cochrane, the Founding Director of iEC Exhibitions, said it will be the first time many of these objects have been displayed publicly.

"Many of these objects are from Nelson Mandela's private collection and as such have never been publicly displayed or left South Africa. I would like to thank the Nelson Mandela Foundation for their role in assisting us with access to so many rare and original objects so that we can share Nelson Mandela’s inspiring story with the world."

Samantha Heywood, iEC Exhibitions' project director and lead curator today said, "This exhibition will bring together objects sourced from the Nelson Mandela Foundation in South Africa and a private collection. Together, they provide a unique insight into Nelson Mandela’s extraordinary life."

Geoff Jones, CEO of TEG, said Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition will be a rare opportunity for Australians to immerse themselves in events that have shaped societies around the world. He said, "Nelson Mandela, both as a man and the leader of a mission, has left an indelible mark on humanity. This exhibition will resonate with Mandela’s heroic struggle and historic achievements. TEG is honoured to be a part of this work."

Lynley Marshall, CEO of Museums Victoria said, "We are delighted to have worked collaboratively with TEG, iEC and the Victorian State Government on the development of this world-first exhibition. The expert curatorial and research skills of Museums Victoria staff, including Kimberley Moulton (Museums Victoria’s Senior Curator South Eastern Aboriginal Collections, First Peoples Department) were pivotal sharing this complex story of a significant leader. It is our pleasure to be hosting its world-premiere at Melbourne Museum."

After exclusively opening in Melbourne, Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition will visit up to 20 international cities and will be viewed by an estimated 2.7 million visitors over five years. This official Mandela exhibition will commemorate, illuminate and most importantly share Nelson Mandela’s living legacy with the world. Tickets go on sale at 9am today, Wednesday 18th July via

Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition
22 September 2018 – 3 March 2019
Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson StreetCarlton, Victoria, 3053
Adult tickets from $22.00
Junior tickets from $17.90
School / group bookings available
Tickets available here

Press images available here.

Media enquiries | Progressive PR & Communications:

Tess Yodgee
[email protected]
0432 904 899

Jodie Artis
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0414 699 186

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