Queensland Museum’s Chinese collections

Diamond Lum (林文川 別字帝敏) and his wife Ruby Lum (Kazu Tanaka, possibly 田中和), circa 1930s. Photo: Kwong Sang collection, Queensland Museum.
Kwong Sang Store (廣盛號), Toowoomba, circa 1920. Front left, in boater hat, is Diamond Lum. Front right is his father Hock Sing (林樂成). Photo: Kwong Sang collection, Queensland Museum.

by Paul Macgregor and Juanita Kwok

At the invitation of Cultures and Histories staff at Queensland Museum, Paul Macgregor and Juanita Kwok from Our Chinese Past spent three days in Brisbane in August reviewing the Chinese collections held by the Museum.

The visit provided an opportunity for the Museum’s curatorial and collection management staff to draw on the expertise of Paul and Juanita to understand the collections and their historical contexts more deeply.

One of the largest of the Queensland Museum’s Chinese collections is the Kwong Sang Collection. Kwong Sang & Co. (廣盛號) was a store in Ruthven Street Toowoomba 1883-1955, managed by Hock Sing (林樂成) until 1923 and then by his son Diamond Lum (林文川 別字帝敏). The collection includes shop stock, family photo albums, Diamond’s library of books and travelling trunk of clothes, and much more.

The Queensland Museum has, in addition, a number of other Chinese collections, with artefacts relating to early Chinese in Brisbane, Atherton, Cairns and elsewhere. Whilst there is much that remains to be assessed and researched, the items seen were impressive, with many being rare and of national significance.

L to R: Rear: Queensland Museum staff Judith Hickson (Curator, Social History), Karen Kindt (Collection Manager) and Nick Hadnutt (Curator of Archaeology). Front: Our Chinese Past’s Paul Macgregor and Juanita Kwok
L to R: Paul Macgregor, Judith Hickson and Juanita Kwok with Diamond Lum’s travelling suitcase.

Paul and Juanita are writing a report for the Museum with the aim of Our Chinese Past offering further research support for the Queensland Museum, to help expand understanding of the Chinese collections, and to collaborate on digitising and making them publicly accessible.