On a very rainy day this weekend, we decided to brace ourselves and take the KTNTM (kids too numerous to mention) to the Museum of Australian Democracy (MOAD). Hubby and I had been wanting to visit the ol' wedding cake for some time, but were unsure on how the kids would handle it i.e. we feared they would be bored out of their brains and muck up famously.
Anyway, it was a blast! One of our 4 year olds declared MOAD 'the best thing I've ever been too; it had everything'. I kid you not.
Upon entering and paying our very reasonable $5 family fee, the kids collected a map with questions to answer at certain sites along the way. Hubby took off after the boys, while I pondered the front steps of the white building, made famous when Gough Whitlam addressed the media after being sacked by the Governor-General in 1975. I was only an infant at the time, but the grainy television images have become part of me.
There is a grandish entry hall embellished by a statue of King George and portraits of past Prime Ministers. The portraits of Paul Keating and Malcolm Fraser and particularly wonderful. Interestingly, the fleeting Kevin Rudd is yet to make the hall. To the left of the hall is the old House of Representatives (green) and to the right is the old Senate (glorious in red). My daughter and I sat for a while in the Senate, admiring its comfy red leather seats and the stunning timber sourced from Queensland while a kindly guide pointed out the features.
Next we began to traverse the museum proper, including exhibits detailing the history of Australian democracy, the building of the parliament houses old and new, and the history of democracy itself.
There is a wonderful section that features old original movie posters (including Mad Max!) of a political theme, as well as politically themed display of paperback fiction.
Upstairs you can visit the press gallery and media quarters, still equipped with typewriters and radio equipment. The kids all had a go interviewing a politician and listening to the playback. One of the imaginary pollies was mocked for being a 'poo-head' by my astute 4 year old.
Going back downstairs we visited the four corners of the building that housed the Prime Ministers suite, the opposition suite, cabinet room and party rooms. There is also a whole quarter now devoted to children, with historical dress ups, picture books and paper leaves on which the kids can write politically inspired messages and hang on a wooden tree for all to see. It was delightful to see my daughter participate in this activity when earlier I had asked her the question 'do you think your voice can be heard?' and she answered in the negative. Children are the future and deserve to be heard.
I don't really know what it was about the MOAD that captured my children's imagination. Maybe it was the long palatial corridoors to run down or the rabbit warren suites of rooms to get lost in. I felt proud and encouraged by my children's enthusiasm and the gentle inspiration found in the considered displays.
The MOAD is an art deco/neo-classical marvel not to be missed.
In a beautiful coincidence, Julia Gillard visited my daughter's school on the same day I wrote the above post. Today's print media covered the visit, in which the PM announced the appointment of the new National Children's Commissioner. The Prime Minister is quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald as having told the children: 'We've listened to you and we've come up with having a national children's commissioner and we've consulted with you about what that person should do to make sure that government is responsive to the needs of young people. We've been thinking about what's a way of ensuring that the voices of children are heard as government goes about making decisions'.