Seeing 100% Brisbane at the Museum of Brisbane in City Hall was kind of tough. I really miss living in this city and while you can take the gal out of Brisbane you will never take the Brisbane out of a gal. We visited for a Mother’s Day vintage high tea and lecture on changing fashion in Australia. It was such an engaging talk filled with examples of well-preserved vintage fashion and incredible stories from Brisbane’s past. Never forget Cloudland ladies and gentleman.
Post-event, I wandered through the 100% Brisbane exhibition with my mother. First things first, it is an exhibition that aims to engage your senses. As you can see from the map below, there are spaces to smell, listen, watch, touch, and contribute. The following will provide a breakdown of what you can do throughout the exhibition space.
My favourite space was ‘Scents of the City’. Here, you could smell what defines this city – frangipani, thunderstorms, sunshine, and mangroves. All of these scents sparked memories of my childhood and really got the nostalgia train moving. Behind each scent was a quote printed on the wall and there was a small thematic panel when you first entered the space.
Another section that really stood out to me was ‘Brisbane DNA’. If you are visiting Brisbane, this is a fantastic place to start. Basically, it tells you the demographic information of Brisbane. It is told, however, in an interactive and interesting way transforming it from reading like a census to actually being engaging. There was a giant screen in the corner of the room revealing some of the more quirky statistics. This included “do you now work in your dream job?” FYI 22% of people said yes.
On the opposite side to the screen were a series of computers. If you are a resident, you could see how your demographics compared to the rest of the city. It was both data collection, but, a cool way for you to feel as though you were contributing to the exhibition.
Moving between ‘Brisbane DNA’ and ‘Scents of the City’, you walk through a space called ‘A Day in the Life of Brisbane’. There is a wall with some sort of projections on it that, when touched, gave you a little taste of waking up, working, and living in this city. The technology is integrated so well I couldn’t even tell where exactly the projections were coming from. That goes for the rest of the space, everything just seemed so perfectly integrated.
The rest of the exhibition tells the story of Brisbane from the birth of the city to how often our river floods. This is all in a very well-designed space with the option of following the story chronologically or selecting your own path. Again, referring to the map, you can see how everything feeds into each other without being a prescriptive path.
I did wander through wondering who is included and who is excluded from this narrative and why. This is why I found the contribution part of the exhibition to have great impact. If a story you could relate to wasn’t included, then you had the power to make sure it at least was represented somewhere.
It was such an engaging exhibition I cannot speak highly enough of it. Sure, I am biased. I related so strongly to the contents because I’ve spent the vast majority of my life in this beautiful city and have since moved away. Seeing the stories and people who live here was quite emotional for this very reason. Even seeing the part of the exhibition on trams made me feel nostalgic and I was born long after they left the city.
I guess then the exhibition caters to a diverse audience. If you know nothing about Brisbane then it’s a great place to start. In one exhibition you can learn quite a substantial amount of information without feeling overwhelmed. If you live here, you can work your way through with the knowledge that you are a part of this exhibition.
Not to mention the gift shop has now been raided and I will return to Sydney as a loud and proud Brisbanite now equipped with the merchandise to prove it.
Thank you Museum of Brisbane, for reminding me of how much I love this city.