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Past events

Annual Bruce Turner Lecture

The annual Bruce Turner lecture reflects an open general topic relating to some aspect of the history of Victoria. Previous lecturers include:



2014: Dr Anne Vale on Exceptional Australian Garden Makers



2013: Dr Andrew Dodd on J.J. Clark: Architect of the Australian Renaissance



2012: Dr Simon Smith on Maverick Litigants: A History of Vexatious Litigants in Australia


2011: Jenny Davies on Beyond the Facade: Flinders Street, More Than Just a Railway Station


2010: Gary Presland on The Place for a Village: How Nature Shaped the City of Melbourne


2009: Jenny Lee on Making Modern Melbourne


2008: Don Hauser on
Printers of the Streets and Lanes of Melbourne


2007: Max Lay on Melbourne Miles:
the Story of Melbourne’s Roads


2006: Andrew Brown-May on The Encylopedia of Melbourne

2006: Clare Wright on Beyond the Ladies’ Lounge: Australia’s Female Publicans
2005: Peter Wolfenden on ‘Movies at Mechanics’ Institutes: More Than Meets the Eye’
2004: Jim Lowden on his visits to 33 mechanics’ institutes in the UK and beyond
2003: Judith Buckrich on Port of Melbourne
2002: Marguerite Hancock on Colonial Consorts: the Wives of Victoria’s Governors 1839-1900
2002: Ann Synan on We Came With Nothing: a History of the West Sale Migrant Holding Centre
2001: Frank Van Straten on ‘Entertaining Melbourne: a Celebration of Our Unique Historic Theatres’
2001: Andrew Ward on ‘Melbourne Metro Railway Architecture’
2000: John Lahey on Faces of Federation
2000: Catherine Milward-Bason on ‘Mechanics’ Institutes of North America’
1999: Ralph Stavely on ‘A History of Victorian Police Valour, 1899-1999’
1998: Weston Bate on ‘Essential but Unplanned: the Story of Melbourne’s Lanes’
1998: Alex Tyrrell on ‘The Origins of the Mechanics’ Institute Movement’
1997: Richard Broom on ‘The Rise and Fall of Side Show Alley’
1997: Weston Bate on ‘History – Who Needs It?’

Annual Laurie McCalman Lecture

The annual Laurie McCalman Lecture is a joint presentation of the PMI and the Prahran Historical & Arts Society, and usually has a local flavour. Previous Laurie McCalman lecturers include:


2015: Dr Helen Doyle on Suburbs at War :
The Cities of Malvern and Prahran During the Great War


2012: Dr Seamus O’Hanlon on Melbourne Remade :
The Inner City Since the 70s


2011: Stella M. Barber on The Pride of Prahran :
a History of the Prahran Library, 1860-2010


2010: Kristin Otto on Capital:
Melbourne When it was the Capital City of Australia 1901-1927


2009: Helen D. Harris, OAM on Helen Hart:
‘Founder of Women’s Suffrage in Australasia’


2008: Robin Grow on Art Deco in the Prahran area


2007: Judith Buckrich on Design for Living:
a History of ‘Prahran Tech’


2006: Kristin Otto on Yarra:
a Diverting History of Melbourne’s Murky River

2005: Stella Barber on Sidney Myer: a Life, a Legacy
2004: Mary Ellis on People and Plants: a History of Gardening in Victoria
2003: Michael Challinger on Historic Court Houses of Victoria
2002: Meyer Eidelson on Great Lives & Stories from the St Kilda Cemetery
2001: Robyn Annear on Nothing but Gold
2000: Philippe Batters on ‘Historic Houses of South Yarra’ 
1999: Jim Badger on ‘The Diggers’ Weddings’

Annual Rare Book Week Lecture

Held during Melbourne Rare Book Week in July, the Lecture is designed to complement Melbourne Rare Book Week which attracts those who have a love of words, print on paper and literary heritage.

Hall's Book Store image


2016: Professor Wallace Kirsop on People from Prahran and District Important to the Melbourne Book Scene.

Annual Family History Week Seminar


Held during National Family History Week in August, the Family History Week Seminar is designed for beginner genealogists. The day includes two illustrated lectures, afternoon tea and a door prize provided by National Family History Week sponsors.

Past speakers include:

Taani Lin (Proquest) on ‘Ancestry Library Edition’
Alison Boundy on ‘Family History Basics for Budding Family Historians’
Clare Bristow (Proquest) on ‘Ancestry Library Edition’
Alison Boundy (Genealogical Society of Victoria) ‘Organising and Caring for your Family History Documents’
Christine Worthington (PMI) on ‘Family History and Computers’
Eleanor Frost (author) on ‘Dating Family Photographs’
Dr George Legge (Genelogical Society of Victoria) on ‘Writing Family History’
Irene Fullerton (VicGUM) on ‘An Introduction to Family History and Computers’
Vicki Montgomery (Genealogical Society of Victoria) on ‘Australian Shipping Records and Passengers’.

Annual Historic Picture Show

Held in November each year, and jointly presented by the PMI and the Cinema and Theatre Historical Society (CATHS), the Picture Show is a real treat. Each year members of CATHS have taken us on entertaining and informative journeys through time via series of historic short films relating to a different theme each year. Previous themes have included ‘Transport and Telecommunications’, ‘Melbourne and Victoria as they used to be’, ‘Documented Communication’, ‘Before the Video/DVD Store’, ‘Newsreel Theatres of Melbourne’, ‘Movies in the Home’, ‘Cinemas and Theatres in Prahran and Surrounds’, ‘The Sense of Occasion: How things have changed at the movies’ and a demonstration of a real magic lantern show using authentic slides from the 1870s. The CATHS archive is located at the PMI and we are very proud of our partnership with this group.

History displays

From time to time the PMI hosts displays and travelling exhibitions concerned with the history of Victoria and Australia. Some notable past displays include:



On the Home Front:WWI in Caulfield & Beyond: Presented by Glen Eira Historical Society


Smile .. Click: A selection of classic cameras from the collection of Ritesh Das, a member of the Australian Photographic Collectors Society.


Arena of Wonder: From Wires to Wireless. A display to commemorate 100 years of the Wireless Institute of Australia.
A selection of items from the collection of Peter Wolfenden.


WW2 Art Deco Aeroplane Ashtrays: A selection of items from the collection of Jim Badger.

‘Nothing on a Plate: Women’s Journey Towards Equity in Victoria’,
which was created in 2001 by the Union of Australian Women.
‘150 Years of Municipal History in Prahran and Malvern, the City of Stonnington’
created by the Stonnington Local History Service.
‘On the Run: Daring Convict Escapes’ created by the State Library of NSW, and sponsored
in Victoria by the Department for Victorian Communities.
‘Mechanics and Proud of It’ created by the Mechanics’ Institutes of Victoria.
‘A Magnificent Spectacle: the Theatre Posters of J.C. Williamson’ created by the State Library of NSW,
and sponsored in Victoria by the Department for Victorian Communities.