Inside Old Parliament House
You may have seen Old Parliament House lit up during the Enlighten Festival this year, but do you know what’s inside? This remarkable building now hosts the Australian Museum of Democracy.
The museum preserves Australia’s politic and social history from 1927 to 1988. It’s a unique chance to see where the politicians and press gallery used to work. You sit inside the former Prime Ministers’ office, see both Houses of Parliament, and wander through the old press gallery and see the working environment of political journalists back in the day.
There are a series of exhibitions at the museum. One worth taking some time exploring is “The Ongoing Story of the 1967 Referendum” a landmark time in Australia’s history when the vast majority of Australians – over 90 per cent – voted “yes” to recognise and give rights to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders.
There is also the “Behind the Lines” exhibition, which is an annual collection of the year’s best political cartoons and is at the museum until November 2018. One of those included in the collection is “Three Ring Circus” featuring amusing cartoons on citizenship chaos, ‘closing the gap’, the gas crisis, Barnaby Joyce and Donald Trump. You can also watch a video of David Rowe: “2017 Behind the Lines Cartoonist of the Year”, who speaks about his work.
Unlike many museums, The Museum of Democracy is interactive. You can interview a Prime Minister, offer your suggestions on what you think the museum should collect, or try on the Greek and Royal clothes in the dress-up room.
One little gem is in the wall of doors in the PlayUp room for the little ones. Behind the doors is a message about democracy inscribed on a mirror. One reads:
I have the right to feel safe, live in a safe environment away from neglect or abuse. I am responsible for helping others feel secure and protected. Adapted from Articles 19 and Article 27 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
If you’re interested in Australia’s history, democracy, politics, the press gallery or even old telephones and computers, you will enjoy exploring this museum.
Opening hours: 9am to 5pm, every day except Christmas Day.
Admission cost: $2 for adults, $1 for students, children and concession cardholders
Location: Old Parliament House, 18 King George Terrace, Parkes, Canberra