Melbourne's Living Museum of the West
Melbourne's Living Museum of the West Inc. is a community museum, with an ecomuseum focus, operating in the western region of Melbourne in the state of Victoria, Australia. The Living Museum, as it is more commonly known, was set up in 1984 to address what was then seen as a disadvantaged region, geographically flat and rocky, heavily industrialised with a high migrant population. The ecomuseum concept regards the area researched by a museum as part of the museum itself. The western region covers a large geographical area (see map) west of Melbourne which includes industrial suburbs merging into rural areas. Geologically it sits on an extensive basalt plain with low rainfall. Its population is approximately 500,000 people from approximately 70 different countries. More than 30% of the population were born in another country. The mix has created a unique cultural context that might even seem surreal to those who live in a more homogenous culture. It has in fact given rise to a cultural dynamic that challenges more conventional forms of interpretation.
This collection is housed in re-purposed industrial buildings located at Pipemakers Park, Maribyrnong, on the banks of the Maribyrnong River. It is predominantly made up of oral histories, printed transcriptions, documents and photographic images (including black and white and colour negatives, and prints and colour slides ? most in the form of a negative archive with contact prints, with a selection of larger prints). Key themes focus on Aboriginal life prior to settlement, migration, work, environment, culture, heritage, industry, women in the community and the everyday stories of the people of Melbourne's West. The collection is a core resource for the Museum?s activities as an ecomuseum (defined in Wikipedia as a museum focused on the identity of a place, largely based on local participation and aiming to enhance the welfare and development of local communities). The collection is complemented by a range of published books, reports and articles, maps plans and drawings, and films held in the Museum?s Resource Centre.
This collection documents the history and ongoing life of people in Melbourne?s western regions.