Italians come from many different backgrounds with strong regional affiliations that continue to inform Italian-Australian identities. They departed from Italy for many reasons to seek opportunities in the New World. Italian-Australians have developed a unique culture by relating their traditions, knowledge and customs to local contents and values. 

The layout of the Museo Italiano is broadly chronological and, through its themes, represents the journey of Italian migrant families to Australia, from the early days of European settlement. The exhibition also has as its backbone an illuminated Timeline, highlighting significant and parallel events in the history of Italy, Australia and the Italian migration story. The themes represented within the Museo are: Departures, Making Lives, Settlement, Interactions, Identity.

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The themes

Departures is a multimedia presentation about the wrench migrants experienced as they journeyed to their new life. It explores the dislocation, culture shock, sense of adventure and anticipation migrants experienced as they left their homes in search of opportunity and refuge. They came to a place far away and very different from everything they had known.
Making Lives is a ten minute film that gives an impression of the life and community that Italians created in Carlton from the earliest days of settlement.
Settlement –19th century arrivals made significant contributions to the development of the city. Italian presence in Melbourne was already strong by the turn of the 20th century as musicians from Viggiano settled in and around Argyle Square. This film traces the history of settlement to Carlton and the later move to the suburbs. Includes many beautiful images from the IHS collection.

Interactions explores how food, language, performance and sport enabled Italians and the broader Australian community to interact and influence each other: There is the story of the first espresso machines imported to Melbourne, a jersey celebrating the Italian AFL team of the century, the film clip of Joe Dolce’s “Shuddup you face”, and a dictionary of Australian-Italian.

Identity: 16 short documentary films explore the ways contemporary Italian-Australians maintain and foster their connection with their Italian heritage. Interviewees include Carlton AFL player Andrew Carrazzo, songwriter Kavisha Mazzella, filmmaker Santo Cilauro, kickboxer/ café owner Sam Greco, theatre producers Raimondo & Adriano Cortese.