Magic of Myer Christmas window displays captured in new museum exhibition
John Kerr wanted to design Christmas window displays since he was a boy. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Nicole Mills)
As John Kerr jumps barefoot between the Christmas characters on display at Melbourne Museum, it’s obvious he’s still a big kid at heart.
A school group rounds the corner and enters the exhibition with a collective “ooooh” and he jokes that his fan club has arrived.
For the past 25 years Mr Kerr has been responsible for creating the animated Christmas displays in the Myer store windows in Melbourne.
Mr Kerr has been overwhelmed by the response to the exhibition at Melbourne Museum. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Nicole Mills)
Some years the Christmas windows focus on animal characters. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Nicole Mills)
Many of Mr Kerr’s displays over the years are featured in the Melbourne Museum exhibition, Make Believe: The Story of the Myer Christmas Windows.
For someone who still has fond memories of piling into the family kombi van to visit the windows as a child, it’s less of a job and more of a dream come true.
“I’ve always wanted to produce the Christmas windows,” he told ABC Radio Melbourne’s Libbi Gorr.
“I was just in awe of them.
“I remember as a kid tugging on mum’s skirt and saying, ‘when I grow up I want to do these Christmas windows’.
“That was my goal from day one.”
Each year the displays are handcrafted by a team of artists who make the moulds, sculpt the characters and sew their costumes.
The theme is always based around a different children’s book in order to promote reading.
This year, it’s an Alice In Wonderland book featuring drawings by French illustrator Rebecca Dautremer.
“The book found me this year,” Mr Kerr said.
“The minute I saw this book I thought, ‘Oh, that’s it’.”
The Myer Christmas windows have been running in Melbourne for 63 years. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Nicole Mills)
Mr Kerr starts planning next year’s display before the current year has ended. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Nicole Mills)
Mr Kerr said he was overwhelmed by the response at the exhibition’s opening night.
“People were just coming up and saying ‘thank you’,” he said.
“I didn’t expect that, because I’m paid as a contractor to do a job, but they were thanking me for all those memories.”
The job requires a year-round focus on the festive season — Mr Kerr begins planning next year’s windows before the current windows have even been removed.
Despite having to think about Christmas all year round, he still adores this time of year.
“I still do love Christmas. I just love the whole build-up to it.”
The exhibition is on at the Melbourne Museum until February 9. (ABC Radio Melbourne: Nicole Mills)
Make Believe: The Story of the Myer Christmas Windows is at Melbourne Museum until February 9.