Skip to main content

Making a Show of It

Making a Show of It retrieved An Aboriginal Moomba and Corroboree from being mere footnotes to the history of Melbourne's performing arts and examined Indigenous entertainers and entrepreneurs in 1950s Melbourne.

Making a Show of It exhibition catalogue - gold and white text on a black background
This content is archived

8 July to 20 August 2008

The genesis of this exhibition was the discovery of the program for An Aboriginal Moomba: Out of the Dark, along with a handful of black-and-white photographs, in the Public Records Office Victoria.

The performance was staged in 1951, at a time when Aboriginal entertainers and entrepreneurs were blocked from having agency in their own ventures by legislation and institutional racism. The show was unusual in receiving government funding and media attention, enjoying sell-out shows during its short season.

Despite the difficulties for Aboriginal entertainment entrepreneurs, the show wasn't alone in presenting Aboriginal culture to a wider world. Entrepreneur Bill Onus also presented Corroboree two years earlier in 1949, as part of Wirth's Olympia.

Making a Show of It retrieved An Aboriginal Moomba and Corroboree from being mere footnotes to the history of Melbourne's performing arts. Putting them centre stage, the exhibition focused on the shows' eclecticism, the resourcefulness of the entertainers and entrepreneurs, the accommodation of both Indigenous and non-Indigenous production staff and their presentation to a broad audience.

Through photographs, programs, media cuttings and other ephemera, Making a Show of It presented the small but growing aesthetic and public space of Aboriginal performance in Melbourne half a century ago.

Curated by Virginia Fraser and Destiny Deacon

Curators Virginia Fraser and Destiny Deacon are long-time collaborators who've worked together on many projects most prolifically in their own art practice.

Virginia is a Melbourne-based artist and writer. She has a BA and MA in fine arts from Port Phillip Institute and La Trobe University, respectively. She trained in journalism and her publications include A Book About Australian Women. Virginia works with experimental and art film as a curator, reviewer and practising artist.

A descendant of the K'ua K'ua and Erub/Mer peoples of Queensland, Destiny lives and works in Melbourne. She graduated from the University of Melbourne with a BA in politics and from La Trobe University with a Diploma of Education.

Her work engages with popular culture, and she has exhibited extensively in solo and group shows since she began taking photographs in 1990. While she is best known for her provocative photographic work, she also uses video and is a writer and performer. Her work is held in many public and private collections.

Making a Show of It was a partnership with Public Record Office Victoria.

Download exhibition catalogue

More information

our acknowledgement

  • Torres Strait Islander Flag
  • Aboriginal People Flag

The City of Melbourne respectfully acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land we govern, the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung and Bunurong / Boon Wurrung peoples of the Kulin and pays respect to their Elders past and present. 


We acknowledge and honour the unbroken spiritual, cultural and political connection they have maintained to this unique place for more than 2000 generations.

We accept the invitation in the Uluru Statement from the Heart and are committed to walking together to build a better future.