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August 09 Edition Cover

Uncovering the Mission’s early origins

04 Aug 2016

Uncovering the Mission’s early origins Image

Docklands’ Mission to Seafarers last month launched a permanent exhibition telling the untold stories of Melbourne’s maritime history.

The Early Origins exhibition features a collection of artefacts discovered at the Mission 10 years ago.

From the pulpit in the chapel, to photographs of seafarers, to a 1897 petition letter from ship captains calling for a facility for seafarers in Melbourne, each item helps to tell the story of the Mission.

The collection is nationally significant, having been recognised as the largest and most complete collection of material relating to seafarer’s welfare in Australia, along with the largest and most complete collection of material relating to the Mission to Seafarers.

Mission to Seafarers CEO Andrea Fleming said the Early Origins exhibition was the culmination of years’ of hard work from dedicated volunteers and provided unexpected insights into the depths of Melbourne’s maritime past.

“We discovered the items by pure coincidence and when we started cataloguing them, we were captivated by the stories they told about the people who came here,” Ms Fleming said.

“Not just the seamen who were welcomed from across the world, but also the hundreds of volunteers from all walks of life across Victoria.”

Ms Fleming said the exhibition would not have been possible without the support of both Bendigo Bank and the Helen Macpherson Smith Trust.

The exhibition draws attention to the mission’s volunteer organisations, including the Melbourne chapter of the Ladies Harbour Lights Guild.

The guild funded most of the construction of the original building and continued to provide support to the mission for the next 50 years.

The collection of material relating to the group is also the largest and most complete in Australia and covers key periods in Australian maritime history including the Second World War and the 1960s, when containerisation dramatically changed the shipping industry worldwide.

The exhibition is displayed throughout the operational areas of the mission, inviting visitors to explore the building. Wayfinding signs guide visitors through the Mission where they can discover heritage interpretation panels and display cases featuring historical artefacts.

You can visit the Early Origins exhibition at the Mission to Seafarers, 717 Flinders St from 11am to 6pm daily.

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