Herta Imhof, a long-time volunteer at the Powerhouse Museum and the story of her childhood experiences as a refugee fleeing from Vienna to Shanghai are the subject of a new exhibition - Shanghai Childhood: Herta’s Story at the Powerhouse Museum.
Herta Rosenzweig and her family, like thousands of other European Jews, escaped Nazi–occupied Vienna for the sanctuary of Shanghai China in 1939. As a major international trading port for over a century, Shanghai's open-door immigration policy provided a haven for successive generations of refugees.
Herta arrived in the cosmopolitan world of Shanghai as a three-year-old. In 1941 when the Japanese soldiers occupied Shanghai, all European refugees were interned. Herta's family was restricted to the Hongkou Jewish ghetto.
After the war, 10-year-old Herta and her family migrated to Sydney as refugees. Later in her life Herta Imhof (nee Rosenzweig) worked as a volunteer at the Powerhouse Museum for seven years. Before her death, Herta recorded her family history and her research forms the basis of this exhibition.
A highlight of the display is a new work by artist Narelle Jubelin entitled, Legacies in Transit which serves as a companion piece to Jubelin's Legacies of Travel and Trade, 1990 and shares its theme of European journeys through China.
Narelle Jubelin's new work is based on several family snapshots from Shanghai in the 1940's which she has rendered in the finest coloured cotton petit point needlework. The photos show the Rosenzweig family - one of the thousands of Jewish families who found sanctuary there from Nazi-occupied Europe. Jubelin extends their meaning to a broader context of refugee journeys by installing her work with a local Shanghai version of Monopoly that belonged to Herta, said Curator Ann Stephen.
The Imhof family has generously assisted the Museum in the preparation of the display and the purchase of Jubelin's work.