The highly anticipated world premiere of Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition opens at the Melbourne Museum tomorrow, Saturday 22 September.

Created in full collaboration with the Nelson Mandela Foundation of South Africa, and produced by iEC Exhibitions, TEG Live and Museums Victoria, this brand new, world-class exhibition opens exclusively in Melbourne prior to a five-year worldwide tour from 2019.

“We are delighted to have worked collaboratively with TEG, iEC and the Victorian State Government on the development of this world-first exhibition. The expert curatorial and research skills of Museums Victoria staff, including Kimberley Moulton, Museums Victoria’s Senior Curator South Eastern Aboriginal Collections, First Peoples Department, were pivotal in sharing this complex story of a significant leader. It is our pleasure to be hosting its world-premiere at Melbourne Museum.”

The exhibition contains many original objects that coincide with the 100th anniversary of Nelson Mandela’s birth and contains a rich collection of artifacts, documents and personal items expertly curated to share the story of Mandela’s rich and colourful life.

'Father of the Innocents'

Some of the original objects include the boxing glove signed and gifted by Muhammad Ali to Mandela, who was an avid boxing fan and who met Ali several times after 1990. The shoes and walking cane used by Mandela in his senior years, as well as his favourite ‘Madiba shirts’ that brightened the corridors of power in South Africa.

Another rare item on show is a passbook that belonged to a young man and was signed by Nelson Mandela. This is a one-of-a-kind item because in 1960, Nelson Mandela burnt his own passbook following the massacre of anti-passbook protesters at Sharpeville. The Pass Laws Act of 1952 required all black South Africans over the age of 16 to carry a passbook and this law was brutally enforced as part of the apartheid regime until it’s abolition in 1986. 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 also offers 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 by Nelson Mandela Foundation

The exhibition gives a rare and touching glimpse into the personal life of Nelson Mandela, with the exhibition curated into ten galleries in the Touring Hall at Melbourne Museum and explores his difficult and sometimes controversial life fighting for equality and democracy. Curated by a team of Museums Victoria staff and headed by iEC Exhibitions’ Samantha Heywood, the exhibition has personal artefacts and documents, many of which have never-before left South Africa, giving an insight into the world that shaped Mandela’s journey from rural Transkei to the political world stage.

For more information on the Mandela My Life: The Official Exhibition, see their website here.


Dates: 22 Sept - 3 March 2019

Location: Melbourne Museum, 11 Nicholson Street. Carlton, Victoria, 3053

Times: Monday – Sunday: 10am to 4pm

Costs: Adults $32, Concession (students & seniors): $22, Junior (children to 16): $17.90

Family (2x Adults & 2x Children or 1 adult & 3x children): $80

Mandela; The Exhibition Website

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