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Emporium: Inside Albury's Most Famous Department Store


  • Margaret Whitlam Galleries (map)

Emporium recreates Albury's first and most famous department store Abikhair's Emporium. A family business run by Syrian immigrant Saad Milham Abikhair and his wife Shefia, the store quickly became known for its personal service, quality and vast array of goods. For almost 70 years Abikhair's was the region's mixed-class department store and a must-visit destination for men and women who could find something to their liking, regardless of their economic background.

Through the lens of this one department store, the exhibition explores the role of women in the 1950s, and the evolution of fashion from the early 20th century.

During the emporium's glory days, women were a household's primary shoppers who were expected to buy for themselves, children, husbands and their homes. The ability to make autonomous decisions about their purchases provided a huge amount of satisfaction for women of the day, and gave them an identity not usually afforded through domestic life.

Similarly, post-war Australia saw traditional skills such as sewing, knitting and baking become less important as a means of defining a woman's value. Increasingly a woman's skill lay in making the right decisions when purchasing goods to maximise her family's wellbeing on a given budget. Abikhair's reputation for good quality at reasonable prices was an important factor at a time when a woman's choice of department store reflected her personal worth.

6 April - 23 June 2017
Thursday and Friday 10am to 4pm
Saturday 8 April 1am to 4pm
Saturday 13 May 11am to 4pm

Free admission to the Female Orphan School and Margaret Whitlam Galleries.