Mahatma Gandhi: An Immigrant - new exhibition set to open at Melbourne's Immigration Museum on April 5

Mahatma Gandhi's influence on India's rich history is known around the world. As the home to more people of Indian descent than any other state in Australia, his migrant story is particularly significant in Victoria. It's a story which profoundly shaped his method of social activism.

A rare studio photograph of Mahatma Gandhi taken in London, England, at the request of Lord Irwin, 1931

Gandhi's years as a migrant in South Africa and the methods of non-violent resistance he developed during this time will be the focus of a digital exhibition opening at Melbourne's Immigration Museum on Thursday 5 April. 

Mahatma Gandhi: An Immigrant explores key events that served as turning points in Gandhi’s life, and subsequently awakened him to the fight against social injustice. Behind this fight is a complex man whose time in South Africa was a period of particular personal transformation. The discrimination he faced led to learnings that influenced both Gandhi as a person, and India more broadly.

The exhibition is curated from more than 1,000 photographs, plus rarely seen archival footage, inspiring voice recordings of speeches and other objects on loan from the Mahatma Gandhi Digital Museum in Hyderabad, India. These items are displayed alongside historical and cultural artefacts rarely exhibited in Australia from Museums Victoria’s permanent collection which reflect the human diversity of Gandhi’s India, dating back more than 150 years.

Included in the items from Museums Victoria’s collection are a selection of traditional Indian clay figures dating from 1860s and 1880s which were displayed in the Indian Court at the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition at the Royal Exhibition Building.

Lynley Marshall, CEO, Museums Victoria, said "We are delighted to be presenting Mahatma Gandhi: An Immigrant at the Immigration Museum in Melbourne as part of a collaboration between Museums Victoria and the Mahatma Gandhi Digital Museum in Hyderabad, India. Visitors will have the chance to interact with a significant collection of objects and digital material from the period of Gandhi’s life in which he migrated from India to England and then South Africa."

Birad Rajaram Yajnik, Curator, Mahatma Gandhi Digital Museum, said "This is the story of a man who practiced peace, truth and non-violence, in a digital format. The exhibition opens in Australia’s cultural capital on the historic date of 5th April, a day when Gandhi shook the Empire with a pinch of salt. We want the visitor to feel the moments of change in the medium of today."

Rohini Kappadath, General Manager, Immigration Museum added, "This exhibition aims to ignite the spirit of Gandhi across Melbourne’s rich and vibrant communities. We couldn't be more honored to welcome you to experience it here at the Immigration Museum, a safe and welcoming space for all communities."

Ela Gandhi, renowned peace activist and granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi is soon to visit Melbourne to view the exhibition. Born in South Africa in 1940, Ela has continued her grandfather’s activist legacy. She was instrumental in the struggle against apartheid and was one of the members of the United Democratic Front who met with Nelson Mandala shortly before his release from prison. A suite of public programs will run for the duration of the exhibition. For more information including appearances by Ela Gandhi, school holiday and student activities, please visit the Immigration Museum website.

This exhibition is supported by the Victorian Government through Creative Victoria. Mahatma Gandhi: An Immigrant is one of the many community and cultural events being held to celebrate and generate awareness of the special bonds Victoria shares with India, following the release of Victoria’s India Strategy: Our Shared Future.

Mahatma Gandhi: An Immigrant is proudly supported by Deakin University, which made history in 1996 as the first international university to open its own office in India. Today, the University continues to partner with the Indian community and government on research projects, scholarships, events, and a range of learning and teaching opportunities. The University’s long-standing and fruitful relationship with India continues to grow with more than 2,400 students from India choosing to study at Deakin University in 2018.

Mahatma Gandhi: An Immigrant is showing at the Immigration Museum from April 5 – July 15 2018.

Mahatma Gandhi: An Immigrant
Immigration Museum
400 Flinders St, Melbourne
Opens 5th April, 2018
Free with Immigration Museum admission

Interviews available with:
Birad Rajaram Yajnik, Curator, Mahatma Gandhi Digital Museum
Rohini Kappadath, General Manager, Immigration Museum 
Lynley Marshall, CEO, Museums Victoria

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