The Immigrants sculpture has been climbed on, sat on, stood next to and embraced by many people who have walked through the gates to the Migration Museum since 2006. The sculpture features in numerous souvenir photos. This symbolic family represents all migrants, while also immediately reminding us of the era of mass migration after the Second World War. The inspiration for this monument came from the Hon. Julian Stefani, a member of the Migration Museum Foundation. The sculpture was unveiled in 2006 by Governor Marjorie Jackson-Nelson and dedicated by Lord Mayor Michael Harbison.
Julian Stefani first suggested the installation of a monument in 2004 as a visual marker and focal point overlooking Settlement Square that could also be seen from Kintore Avenue. He and other members of the Migration Museum’s Foundation Committee felt it was important ‘To make clear that the Migration Museum is about people. People like ourselves or our ancestors who made that enormous journey of faith to start a new life in a new country.’ It took more than two years of planning to obtain funding for this project to be realised.
Design and production
The sculpture was designed by Italian sculptor Aurelio Fortelaan. The Immigrants is a companion to an original sculpture by Fortelaan that stands in Asiago in northern Italy to honour the many migrants who left Italy following the Second World War. The sculpture at the Migration Museum was created through the process of lost wax fusion by the Guastini Artistic Foundry of Vicenza in Italy.
The sculpture is mounted on a flat granite plinth above a concrete base. The words on the front of the plinth – 'courage, pride, dreams, achievements' – were chosen by the committee to represent the experiences and motivations of migrants in South Australia. The sculpture shows a family group, the father moving forward (towards the museum) with suitcase in hand indicating imminent departure with his family. The mother looking back faces the other way (towards the museum’s gates), perhaps hesitant at leaving her homeland. Their young child, representing the future, faces forwards directly engaging with visitors. A bronze plaque on the wall of the former chapel behind records the dedication of the sculpture in 2006.
At just under life size the sculpture provides an appealing photo opportunity for visitors entering the courtyard. Many stand with The Immigrants for a record of their visit, and young children are often seen making friends with the smallest member of this family group. The sculpture sits adjacent to Settlement Square where Migration Museum Foundation members have recorded the arrival of family members, ancestors or themselves in South Australia.