“Why Haven’t We Been Taught All That At School?” Crosscultural Community Projects in North Queensland, Australia


  • Maria Wronska-Friend

    1. Maria Wronska-Friend (maria.friend@jcu.edu.au), curator and museum anthropologist, was Museum Development Officer for the Queensland Museum, in Cairns, Australia in 1999–2011. She is currently adjunct senior lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at James Cook University in Cairns.
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Abstract  The city of Cairns, in north Queensland, is home to one of the most diverse populations of Australia. Situated close to South and Southeast Asia as well as the Pacific islands, it has been attracting migrants for more than 120 years. Local museums, run by historical societies, focus almost exclusively on the experience of Anglo-Celtic settlers. Maria Wronska-Friend, Cairns-based curator and Museum Development Officer during 20002010, organized 14 community-based exhibitions that addressed the history, contributions, and the process of cultural adaptation of “forgotten” peoples: migrants from south China, Hmong refugees from Laos, Sikh sugar cane farmers, recent migrants from Papua New Guinea, and Europeans who came as Displaced Persons after World War II. Presented in easily accessible public spaces, the exhibitions helped to create a crosscultural dialogue and made an important contribution to non-formal education. A visitor asked in the comment book: “Why haven’t we been taught all that at school?”