Events at the Stonnington History Centre

Discover Stonnington’s past with History Matters, a range of free workshops and presentations on a variety of history topics, led by Stonnington History Centre staff. We also run an exciting exhibition program and occasional tours of the building. For further information, please contact us.

Where bookings are required, they open at 10am on the first day of the month prior to the event.

All sessions take place at the Stonnington History Centre Exhibition Space at 1257 High Street, Malvern (behind Malvern Library), unless specified otherwise.

The City of Stonnington will be taking photographs and/or filming at events. Your image may be reproduced in publications and/or promotional materials, on our website and/or social media. See our privacy statement for further information.

 History Centre precinct map


Family group

Family History Club

Curious about your ancestors? Whether you are a beginner or an experienced family history researcher, come and join our friendly monthly group where you can meet with fellow enthusiasts and explore the many genealogy resources available at the Stonnington History Centre.

First Wednesday of the month, 2–4pm: 5 February, 4 March, 1 April, 6 May, 3 June 2020. No bookings required. Please note there is no meeting in January.


History Matters

You can take the boy out of Malvern, but you can’t take Malvern out of the boy!

A life-long resident of Malvern, Des Tobin has been a youth worker, sportsman, business executive in the funeral industry, and a writer. Des reflects on life in Malvern in the 1940s and 1950s when children were free to roam, climb trees, catch yabbies in the Malvern Gardens’ pond, play football and cricket in the quiet streets, and follow the Salvation Army band on Sunday evenings. He will also talk about his late father, Malvern identity Phonse Tobin, sharing stories from his latest biography Just a man called Phonse: The anything but ordinary life of A.V. (Phonse) Tobin.

Wednesday 27 May, 5.30pm – 6.30pm
Stonnington History Centre Exhibition Space

Bookings required. Book online or call 8290 1360. Bookings open 10am on 1 April.

Anthony Edwin Bowes Kelly, Malvern’s mining magnate

Anthony Edwin Bowes Kelly was a founding director of Broken Hill Proprietary Co. Ltd (BHP), and director of the Mount Lyell Mining and Railway Co. Ltd copper mine in Tasmania. He also invested in other Australian mining companies, acquired the historic Norton Mandeville station in Tasmania where he ran sheep, was a director of several banks and a member of Malvern Shire Council (1892-96). Kelly, his wife and many of their nine children lived first at Waiora in Glenferrie Road, before purchasing Moorakyne in 1901.

Retired mining engineer Richard Knight delves into the history of Anthony Edwin Bowes Kelly and his many mining interests, drawing on his years of research and experience in the mining industry.

Wednesday 24 June, 5.30pm – 6.30pm
Stonnington History Centre Exhibition Space

Bookings required. Book online or call 8290 1360. Bookings open 10am on 1 May.


What's On at the Libraries 

Follow this link to see a list of other events held at Stonnington's Libraries, or download or print our What's On(PDF, 2MB) guide.


Past Events

Sports exhibition postcard

Exhibition: Well played!

Discover stories of local sporting heroes and learn how our favourite games have changed over the decades, in this latest exhibition by the Stonnington History Centre. With a former international grand slam tennis venue at Kooyong, one of the nation’s oldest ongoing sporting clubs, the Malvern Harriers, and Prahran Football Club continuing to produce players for our national game, there’s plenty of history still to be made in Stonnington’s sporting arena.

This exhibition includes sporting memorabilia, photographs, new and old uniforms and sporting equipment, trophies and ephemera, drawn from the History Centre's collection or on loan. Clubs that have generously contributed items to the exhibition include: Chadstone Lacrosse Club, Malvern Baseball Club, Malvern Bowling Club, Malvern Cricket Club, Malvern Harriers, Malvern Lacrosse Club, Malvern Marlins, Melbourne High School Old Boys Hockey Clubs, Power House Rowing Club, Prahran Cricket Club, Prahran Football Club, Prahran Netball Association, Royal South Yarra Lawn Tennis Club, St Andrew’s Gardiner Cricket Club and South Yarra Cricket Club.

Exhibition: The best of times, the worst of times - a woman's lot in Charles DickensPostcard for Women of Dickens exhibition

Betsey Trotwood, Lady Dedlock, Estella, Madame Defarge, Fanny Squeers, Amy Dorritt and Nancy are just a few of the well-known female characters in Charles Dickens’ novels. This exhibition brings these women to life in original clothing of the era, spanning several decades of the nineteenth century. Presented by the Dressing Australia Museum of Costume and the Stonnington History Centre, to mark the 150th anniversary of the passing of the immortal novelist in 1870.

Exhibition: The Entrepreneurial Spirit 

Business postcard

This exhibition showcases local entrepreneurs, their businesses, products and stories. Meet the makers, manufacturers and magnates who lived and worked in Stonnington. Read early letters by Anthony Edwin Bowes Kelly (Founding Director of BHP), who lived in Glenferrie Road. Examine electric appliances made by the Marriotts in their Hecla factory in Chapel Street. Admire the works of award-winning local photographer Nicholas Caire, society photographer David Muntz, and see up close the hand-made shoes of Rocco Bufalo and his son. Read stories about how other local entrepreneurs established their enterprises, including: Ada Coggan (mica production), Peter O'Sullivan (Black Lance swimwear); the Joachim brothers (Leslie Knitting Mills); Arthur Tilley (soaps); Henry Jones (IXL jams); William Woodmason; the Pepperells; newspaper men Aubrey Brotherton and Henry Osment; coach builders Martin & King and A. W. Hinton; Tom Finnegan and Bruce Small's Malvern Star bicycles; and local foundry men including Enoch Chambers.

Armistice exhibition postcard

Exhibition: Service and sacrifice at home and at war, 1914-1918

This Armistice Day centenary exhibition includes costumes from the Dressing Australia Museum of Costume, and is brought to you by the Stonnington History Centre. Meet the locals who contributed to the war effort at home and overseas, through their letters, photographs and ephemera. Place a poppy sticker on the gallery wall to remember those who lost their lives. Acknowledgement and disclaimer: This exhibition is partially funded under the Commonwealth Government’s Saluting Their Service Commemorations Program. The Commonwealth has not participated in the research, production or exercised editorial control over the exhibition or its contents. The views expressed and conclusions reached herein do not necessarily represent those of the Commonwealth, which expressly disclaims any responsibility for the content or accuracy of the exhibition.

Exhibition: Be Persuaded – A Jane Austen Experience Exhibition: Fashions From the Time of Jane AustenBe Persuaded exhibition postcard

To mark the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, the Dressing Australia Museum of Costume has designed a rare and wonderful exhibition bringing Jane Austen to life in original fashion of the era. Hosted by the Stonnington History Centre, Be Persuaded features rare fashion, accessories and ephemera from the 18th century when Jane was born. Pieces such as these are rarely on display outside of major museums.

Mayoral postcard front edited CH.jpg

Exhibition - The Mayoral Office: more than robes and chains 

Meet the mayors who have served the municipalities of Stonnington, Malvern and Prahran for more than 160 years. Discover the responsibilities that come with the Head of Local Government and how the Mayoral Office has evolved through time.

Streets postcard front

Exhibition - Streets where we live: From Crown land to conservation

From the subdivision of the land to the creation of our residential streets, discover the evolution of our urban landscape through maps, mansions and the modern. Topics included: land subdivisions, architectural drawings, street names and numberings, floods, re-use and re-zoning, houses large and small, houses lost and some with heritage protections, and even a history of Northbrook, now home to the Stonnington History Centre.

Threads of History postcard Exhibition - Threads of History: Dressing Stonnington through time

Our second exhibition at the Northbrook Pop-Up Gallery – Threads of History: Dressing Stonnington through time – allowed visitors to wander through the work of the seamstress, the tailor, the fashion designer and discover the clothing made and worn in Stonnington since the 1850s. A possum skin cloak, a wedding dress and exquisitely hand-stitched silk pyjamas were among some of our treasures never before seen on display.

A descriptive online exhibition catalogue is now available. 

History Matters postcard pic

Exhibition - History Matters: Treasures from Stonnington's Archives

Our first exhibition at the Northbrook Pop-Up Gallery – History Matters: Treasures from Stonnington's Archives – was a huge success, and hundreds of visitors shared their memories of the exhibits with us.

Although it has now closed, you can still view the descriptive exhibition catalogue