As the world celebrates the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth this week, Museums Victoria has announced the highly anticipated world premiere exhibition, Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition will open exclusively in September at Melbourne Museum before commencing on a 5-year worldwide museum tour from 2019.
Developed in full collaboration with The Nelson Mandela Foundation of South Africa, the exhibition will feature a rich collection of artifacts, documents and personal items expertly curated to share the story of Mandela’s rich and colourful life.
Some of the confirmed key objects in the exhibition include the boxing glove signed and gifted by Muhammad Ali to Mandela – who was an avid boxing fan and met Ali several times after 1990. The shoes and walking cane used by Mandela in his senior years plus some of his favourite ‘Madiba shirts’ that brightened the corridors of power.
The Pass Laws Act of 1952 required all black South Africans over the age of 16 to carry a passbook and was brutally enforced as part of the apartheid regime until it’s abolition in 1986. In 1960, Nelson Mandela burnt his passbook following the massacre of anti-passbook protesters at Sharpeville.
An original and rare passbook that belonged to a young man and was signed by Nelson Mandela will be on display at the exhibition. This is an extremely rare object as few people cared to hold on to their passbooks once the pass laws had been abolished.
The exhibition will also feature a deep and rich archive of images, film and sound recordings including film footage of what is believed to be the earliest film of Nelson Mandela being interviewed during a break in the ‘Treason Trial’ of 1956-1961. Mandela was one of 156 defendants, along with members of all other anti-apartheid movements, in a trial that was designed to dismantle the People’s Congress Alliance and attack the Freedom Charter.
Providing a rare and touching glimpse into the personal life of Nelson Mandela, this official Mandela exhibition has been curated into ten galleries in the Touring Hall at Melbourne Museum and explores his difficult and sometimes controversial life fighting for equality and democracy.
The 800m2 exhibition will include outstanding artworks, original artefacts and genuine replications of rare content from the Nelson Mandela archives, including manuscripts from his writings in prison, taking visitors through a multi-sensory, interactive, educational and emotive journey of Mandela’s 95 years of life.
After exclusively opening in Melbourne, Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition will visit up to 20 international cities and will be viewed by an estimated 2.7 million visitors over five years. This official Mandela exhibition will commemorate, illuminate and most importantly share Nelson Mandela’s living legacy with the world.
“This incredible exhibition will give visitors of all ages an insight into the man behind the legend,” said Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley. “This exhibition has opened up the Mandela archives, bringing out many priceless items which have never before left South Africa. We are honoured that the exhibition will have its world premiere in Melbourne, it shows the global standing of our museum and is another example of Victoria leading the way.”
Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition
Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street. Carlton
Exhibition: 22 September 2018 – 3 March 2019
Information and Bookings: www.mandelamylifeexhibition.com
Image: Nelson Mandela – photo by Keith Bernstein