Surprising Stories

Article | Updated 1 week ago

When researching stories for the New Museum, sometimes they take a turn and we are led down a surprising, new path.

This was the case when Xavier Leenders Culture and Communities researcher met with Perth local Marjorie Keller-Tun to explore a collection of objects from her birthplace of Burma (Mynamar) and talk about out why she moved to Western Australia in the 1980s.

Xavier was researching migration stories for the Connections gallery.  He was documenting personal stories about the reasons people came to WA, and what it is like to call this place home. 

Marjorie’s objects reflected everyday life and culture in Burma and included tapestries, wood carvings and an antique bronze Ming period incense burner.

While he was packing the objects for transport to the Museum, Marjorie asked Xavier to stop for a moment and sit with her. She wanted to show him some photo albums that had belonged to her late husband, Charles.

She brought out two old, leather-bound Chinese photo albums.  Marjorie suggested they may be of interest to the Museum and that she could donate them along with the other items.

Xavier took a seat and listened as Marjorie talked about the photos taken by her husband during his time in Shanghai in the 1930s.

The story the photos told him was wholly unexpected from the Burmese migration story he had anticipated.  

They chronicled a fascinating life story – a Swiss diplomat in China, WWII efforts, a military coup and the desire to find a better climate in a faraway land.

As a result of Charles' health the couple migrated to Western Australia in 1982.  He sadly passed away two years later. 

Marjorie and Charles' objects from Burma will be displayed in the Connections gallery along with their story.