Behind the Lines at Museum of Australian Democracy

1 Dec

Another year is almost over, and that also sounds the end of another political year. In a year where we had three Prime Ministers, the Behind the Lines exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House) had plenty of political cartoons to choose from in their annual exhibition.


MOAD charges a $2 entry fee for adults, and then we’re directed to the Downstairs Gallery where the cartoons are on display.

Boyfriend leads the way to the exhibition

Boyfriend leads the way to the exhibition

On entrance, there’s a puppet theatre set up, as well as a TV and a few comfy couches where you can listen to the ABC TV Insiders Talking Heads segments from throughout the year.



The exhibition starts to our left, but I watch many people veer to the right instead. It’s definitely the left. The exhibition opens with “The Opening Move” – Gillard’s 14 September election date announcement in January. The 80 or so cartoons fall under this and seven other headings: “Caught in the web”, “Rooks defending the Queen”, “A broken budget promise”, “Metamorphosis”, “Desperate Days, Desperate Actions”, “The King sits at the Summit” and “Endgame”.

Desperate Days, Desperate Actions

Desperate Days, Desperate Actions

Something to keep in mind is that there is a certain order. Again, I see people jumping from wall to wall and skipping cartoons. I find it a much more engaging experience to follow the year chronologically, so follow the cartoons as they are numbered. The way it’s set out is not entirely logical/it doesn’t have perfect flow, but the numbers make it easy enough.

There's a decent crowd - on some cartoons I find I have to wait my turn to view them!

There’s a decent crowd – on some cartoons I find I have to wait my turn to view them!

Captions which provide the context and details of the cartoonist neatly accompany the comics. They’re excellent (bar one strange out of place one which I think might be an error – see if you can spot it?), and really help set the scene and bring to mind exactly what was going on during such an eventful year. There are also captions for younger attendees which are intended to provide some thoughts or encouragements from the cartoonists. I’m obviously not a kid (okay, debatable at times), but I find these a little on the repetitive side – I’d love to see some of the weirder and wonderful insights into the politicians themselves.


For those who have trouble reading small captions, there’s a large captioned exhibition book which can be taken around the exhibition to assist.


I also take the time to vote for my favourite cartoon using an iPad on display for this very purpose.


Date: Sunday, 1 December 2013

Where: 18 King George Terrace, Parkes, Canberra

Cost: $2 entry fee for adults, $1 concession and children, and $5 for families – this also allows you into the rest of OPH

Worthwhile factor: Worthwhile

Want more? The exhibition is on until 17 November next year and is open daily from 9am-5pm, and will also travel around Australia. You can also view the exhibition entirely online, but there’s always something a bit special about being at Old Parliament House.


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