Museum of Chinese Australian History

22 Cohen Place. Photo courtesy of Russell Winnell 2013

About the Museum

Located in the heart of Melbourne’s Chinatown, the Chinese Museum’s five floors showcase the heritage and culture of Australia’s Chinese community. Our purpose is to operate a museum, to promote and preserve Chinese Culture and history; especially of Australian-Chinese history in Australia.

The Museum has three permanent exhibitions:

Special Exhibition 

In the Temporary Exhibition Gallery (Level 1), the Museum rotates exhibitions every three to four months. Occasionally, we invite international and local artists to present exhibitions, cultural events and contemporary art shows in the space.

The Museum offers a variety of guided tours, programs and workshops that are available for group bookings.


History of the Museum

The Museum of Chinese Australian History was established in 1985 as a community-run, not-for-profit national institution to document, preserve, collect and research the history and culture of Chinese Australians and their descendants.

The Museum is housed in a late nineteenth century five-level warehouse. The warehouse was built in 1890 by the Cohen Bros who were furniture manufacturers and they used this building as a factory to make furniture and also a storeroom.

After the Cohen Bros moved out, it was purchased by Her Majesty’s theatre and was used for the storage of sets and costumes. During the hey-day of musical extravaganzas, it was also used as change rooms for the large choruses that were a part of these shows.

The building was acquired by the Victorian government from Her Majesty’s in 1985 and is rented by the Museum for a nominal fee. When it opened its doors to the public in November 1985 it had no foundation collection and only three levels of the building had been renovated – basement, ground and first floors. The second floor was renovated in 1987 and the third floor along with the rest of the building in 1995. In 2010 renovations were made to the ground and first floors.