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Vase that belonged to Arthur Calwell #2010-0279

Tall slender metal green vase with Hebrew characters in black and gold.


This vase is part of a collection of objects that belonged to Arthur Calwell, Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49) that were donated to the museum by his daughter, Dr Mary Elizabeth Calwell.

This vase was presented to Calwell during a dinner in St Kilda in 1960, at which the main speaker was Professor Zelman Cowen. The dinner was put on by the Melbourne Jewish community in honour of Calwell’s election as Leader of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party. Calwell’s support for Holocaust survivors languishing in Displaced Persons camps was such that he signed hundreds of blank visas and gave them to representatives of Jewish organisations. He also took the lead, in his concurrent post as Minister for Information (1943-49), in challenging anti-Semitism in Australia.

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This vase is significant as part of the Arthur Calwell collection, which is comprised of a selection of objects that belonged to Australia’s first Minister for Immigration (1945-49), Arthur Calwell. The collection is significant as a whole because it tells a story about a leading Commonwealth parliamentarian of the middle decades of the twentieth century and includes highly personal material which tells of Calwell’s family life, his life-long involvement in Labor politics, and his personal religious convictions. The Arthur Calwell collection at the museum uniquely links the personal with the political, thus affording an opportunity to conduct research which tells a rounded story of this important parliamentarian.

This vase is significant as an indication of the high regard held for Arthur Calwell by the Australian Jewish community, as a result of his bold support for post-war Jewish immigration.


Calwell, Arthur, Be just and fear not, Victoria: Hawthorn, 1972.

Kiernan, Colm, Calwell: a personal and political biography, Melbourne: Thomas Nelson, 1978.

  • Vase that belonged to Arthur CalwellVase that belonged to Arthur Calwell —


Width 110mm
Height 452mm
Depth 92mm
Medium Metal
Creator’s name Unknown
Date created Unknown