The Way of the Reformer: Gough Whitlam in his Century
Created to mark the centenary of Gough Whitlam’s birth, this exhibition invites audiences to journey through the compelling biography of one of Australia’s most respected Prime Ministers.
Created to mark the centenary of Gough Whitlam’s birth, The Way of the Reformer: Gough Whitlam in His Century invites audiences to journey through the compelling biography of one of Australia’s most respected Prime Ministers, the Hon Gough Whitlam AC QC. This exhibition tells the story of how Whitlam’s experiences inspired him to bring about the nation changing reforms of his Prime Ministership. In so doing, it will empower visitors to be conscious of experiences within their own lives that might inspire them to agitate for social changes of similar importance to the nation’s future.
The exhibition is curated into five chronological ‘chapters’ which reveal fascinating insights into Mr Whitlam’s life and how certain experiences sparked his passion for progressive reform. Audiences will trace how Whitlam’s early family life and education shaped his character, interests and beliefs; how Gough’s experience as a navigator in World War 2 affected the course of his life and political outlook; the romantic and fundamentally important relationship with Margaret Whitlam and her influence on his life, politics and Australian society; their experience of settling a young family in the rapidly growing outer suburbs of Sydney and how this experience would shape his political agenda. The final chapter in the exhibition communicates Gough Whitlam’s continued service to the nation after politics and lastly, his death, memorial service and public reactions to the passing of Australia’s 21st Prime Minister.
Interpretive panels with images and text are the primary element through which the exhibition’s narrative is communicated and seamlessly guide the visitor through each life chapter. The image and text panels capture the essence of Whitlam’s life and experiences which shaped both him and as a consequence, the nation.
Framed archival photographs drawn from the Whitlam Prime Ministerial Collection complement the interpretive panels and capture interesting and significant moments in Mr Whitlam’s life. Examples include early family portraits, school and university days, Mr Whitlam as a movie extra, a collection of personal photographs taken during his war service, marriage to Margaret Dovey and their ground breaking journeys together to China and Japan.
Fabric hanging banners which display striking images and quotes are a vibrant addition to the exhibition. The gallery space is enlivened with audio visual content which includes footage of an ABC interview with Margaret Whitlam, tributes from Gough Whitlam’s memorial service and a timeline of Whitlam’s history with background music.
A touring exhibition of the Whitlam Institute within Western Sydney University
Image Credit: Portrait of Gough Whitlam, Prime Minister of Australia, December 2nd 1972-1975 National Library of Australia