This was the first time I have been to the Melbourne exhibition at the Museum, and the first time I had learned much about Melbourne’s history in depth. It was a lot bigger than I expected, and I only spent about an hour there but I’m sure I could have spent a lot longer reading all of the information available, of which there was a lot of. It starts with a brief – very brief in contrast to the history explored of the white settlers – look at Australia before colonists arrived. I sort of expected more in this part, but the exhibition looks at very recent history and the industrialisation of the city and surrounding areas more than broad timelines.
The information is shown less so through plaques with text – though there is some of this – and more through visual aids, props, and physical artifacts. While not the most prominent there are select digital sections such as the layered, interactive maps, isolated sound areas, televisions, and projections. There’s also a lot of newspaper clippings, archival photographs, and paintings and etchings that really help to give a full visualisation of the history being told. It was good to see some frank exploration of discrimination in recent history such as the immigration restrictions on the 20th Century.
There weren’t any sort of linear wayfinding techniques used, but the exhibition used landmark kind of design to mark different sections of the history, so you couldn’t really follow the history in one line as such but there were themed installation areas such as the old bookshop walkthrough area that act as tactile visual aids to convey the history.