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Time and place: "The Immigrants"

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In the latest article in our series on significant South Australian people, places and things, we explain the significance of the “family” of immigrants that stands near the Migration Museum – and their link with Italy.

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The Migration Museum in Adelaide is something of a hidden gem tucked in behind the State Library on Kintore Avenue. Since 2006 a “family of immigrants” has been enticing passers-by to walk through the gates and discover the museum.

The Immigrants sculpture has been climbed on, sat on, stood next to and embraced by many people who have walked through the gates. The sculpture features in numerous souvenir photos.

This symbolic family represents all migrants, while also immediately reminding us of the era of mass migration after the Second World War.

The inspiration for this monument came from the Julian Stefani, a former MP and member of the Migration Museum Foundation. The sculpture was unveiled in 2006 by then Governor Marjorie Jackson-Nelson and was dedicated by then Lord Mayor Michael Harbison.

Stefani first suggested the installation of a monument in 2004 as a visual marker and focal point overlooking Settlement Square that could also be seen from Kintore Avenue. He and other members of the Migration Museum’s Foundation Committee felt it was important “to make clear that the Migration Museum is about people – people like ourselves or our ancestors who made that enormous journey of faith to start a new life in a new country.”

The Immigrants. Photo: Andre Castellucci

The Immigrants. Photo: Andre Castellucci

It took more than two years of planning to obtain the necessary funding for the project to be realised.

The Immigrants is a companion to another sculpture that stands in Asiago in northern Italy to honour the many migrants who left Italy following the Second World War. Both were designed by Italian sculptor Aurelio Fortelaan.

At just under life size, the sculpture provides an appealing photo opportunity for visitors entering the courtyard. Many stand with The Immigrants for a record of their visit, and young children are often seen making friends with the smallest member of this family group.

The sculpture sits adjacent to Settlement Square where Migration Museum Foundation members have recorded the arrival of family members, ancestors or themselves in South Australia.

Catherine Manning is curator of online programs at the History Trust of South Australia.

Time and place is a series about historic places, people and objects in South Australia, brought to you by a partnership of InDaily and the History Trust of South Australia.

Go here for more “Time and place” articles.

For more stories like this one, you can also visit the SA History Hub.

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