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Haymarket: Museum of Chinese Australia to be established in Sydney

The Museum of Chinese Australia will be formed to preserve Chinese people's history, heritage, and material culture in Australia. Photo: MOCA

By ELISE PAPAIOANNOU

The Museum of Chinese Australia (MOCA) will be formed in a previous Haymarket library at 744 George Street to preserve Chinese people’s history, heritage, and material culture in Australia. Haymarket in Sydney is home to the largest Chinatown in Australia.

In October 2019, the City of Sydney invited organisations to transform the Victorian building, constructed in 1875. The building is in a Venetian Gothic style by architect brothers George and Ralph Mansfield.

Sustainable Sydney 2030

Board Chair of MOCA Dr John Yu AC detailed the plans for the trailblazing centre.

“MOCA’s vision is to celebrate the contribution, ingenuity and resilience of Chinese Australians, past, present and future,” Yu told City Hub.

“It aims to do this by sharing the stories and experiences of those who have made significant contributions to Australia’s development as a nation.”

MOCA was the winning proposal, selected from 13 applications received through an EOI process managed by an independent probity advisor and signed the lease on February 27th 2020. The lease is under the Accommodation Grants Program, which allows the use of buildings and spaces for various services to develop social, cultural and environmental programs.

City of Sydney Councillor Craig Chung said this vision is something his elders in the community spoke about since he was a child.

“This is a major tourism piece for Sydney’s Historic Chinatown. Over one million people visited Chinatown pre-COVID. MOCA adds another dimension to the visitor experience in Haymarket and will definitely aid the recovery of tourism,” Councillor Chung said.

Chinese New Year, Lantern Festivals, and food markets could be held at the museum, bringing tourism and education through exhibitions, various art forms and discussions with community leaders.

Strive for Community Education

Lord Mayor Clover Moore told City Hub, “The Museum of Chinese in Australia will feature a gallery and exhibition space, programming activities, community spaces for meetings and events, an artist in residence program, a cafe and shop.”

Dr John Yu AC said the museum and galleries plan to network with the state and develop partnerships with various universities and community groups.

The museum is still yet to open, but a small exhibition will open in the foyer in the upcoming months, focused on personal stories of Chinese Australia and Chinatown. A fundraising campaign will be set up to support building refurbishment and future work.

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