Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

A bat in the Museum

October 31st, 2014 by


The bat in this photograph, safe in the hands of an expert from Australian Wildlife Displays, was not photographed with Halloween in mind, but  instead as part of an Ultimo Science Week program last year.

Australian flying-foxes, otherwise known as fruit bats, are mammals, and members of the Pteropodidae family, found mostly on the eastern coast. Flying foxes are very social animals and often roost in large numbers. A cloud of dark winged creatures travelling across the evening sky was a familiar sight in Sydney when members of the Royal Botanic Gardens’ flying-fox colony ventured out from their permanent camp in search of nectar, fruit and pollen in the local area.

The association of bats with Halloween may have originated with the discovery of the vampire bat in the 17th century. There are also suggestions that the the light from big bonfires associated with early Halloween celebrations attracted insects which in turn attracted bats in search of food.

You can read more about bats of the Australian flying fox type on the Sydney Bats website.

Happy Halloween!

Photography by Marinco Kojdanovski

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Recollect: Models

October 30th, 2014 by

architectural model

We have just brought out a range of architectural models from the collection store to put on display including this house model `The House of Tomorrow’ for Recollect: Models.

Robin Boyd designed the first of a post-war explosion of modernist display homes with his House of Tomorrow. Displayed by the Small Homes Service at the 1949 Modern Home Show at the Exhibition Building in Carlton Gardens, this house made a similar impact in Melbourne to that made by Seidler’s Rose Seidler house in Sydney. The Argus observed that the House of Tomorrow was ‘the centre of attraction … no doubt its modernity will inflict a shock on the conservative type of home owner or builder. Perhaps the most striking feature is the all-glass entrance hall’.

The rapidly-assembled house was a display set rather than a completed house; visitors had to view the house through its unglazed windows rather than walk through the interior, which featured furniture and fittings by Grant Featherstone and other contemporary designers. The most striking feature of its design was the cantilevered bedroom space above the kitchen, although from Boyd’s summary of responses in his Age column, it is clear that he received many negative reactions to features including the flat roof, open planning (‘How do you eradicate cooking smells?’) and the colours (purple and blue-green). The practice of highlighting a house’s form via contrasting wall colours was clearly confronting for many Melbournites.

Charles Pickett, Curator Design and built environment.

In our display you can see  fine-scale architectural landscapes to charming hand-made dolls houses replete with miniature contents,plus a selection of 17 fascinating models of buildings from the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences’ extensive collection.

Photo by Paula Bray

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The cocktail umbrella

October 29th, 2014 by

2006 Peats Ridge Festival in the Glenworth Valley

This photograph of an parasol stall was taken at the Peats Ridge festival in 2006. The paper parasol makes a stylish accessory and a very practical one for outdoor events. Apart from an impressive array of  parasols, another type of umbrella is shown in this photograph. The man on the left carries a drink in a coconut shell decorated with a tiny parasol, more commonly known as a cocktail umbrella.

According to Wikipedia the cocktail umbrella is believed to have arrived on the bar scene as early as 1932 in San Francisco, courtesy of Victor Bergeron, founder of the Polynesian themed Trader Vic’s restaurant chain. Bergeron, however, admitted to having copied it from Don the Beachcomber, a competitor’s restaurant. Other accounts, such as one on the Smithsonian Channel blog, credit the invention of the cocktail umbrella to Harry Yee, a bartender at the Waikiki Hilton in Hawaii. 

2006 Peats Ridge Festival in the Glenworth Valley

Photography by Jean-Francois Lanzarone,

© All rights reserved

Studio display

October 28th, 2014 by

Studio display

This Studio display has been brought out from the collection store and is currently on display in our Interface: people, machines, design exhibition.

The 17 inch (432mm) Studio display was one of the largest and heaviest displays to come from Apple and was the last stand-alone cathode ray tube (CRT) display manufactured by the company. Weighing around five times as much as its flat screen peers and using twice as much power, it was not popular and was deleted from Apple’s inventory within a year of release.

Despite these shortcomings it presents a pleasing form. The elegant converging lines visually diminish its vast physical volume and the clear acrylic case reveals all the internal components.

The clear casing, also applied to Apple audio, keyboard and mouse accessories at this time, offers the last glimpse into the mechanism of a CRT. Ive took great care in the arrangement of the internal components. The mechanism floats clear of the housing within the cavity of the case.

Photography by Sotha Bourn

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The man behind the camera

October 27th, 2014 by


This photograph from the David Mist archive collection shows Australian cinematographer Mike Molloy filming a fashion model.

In a characteristically unique and perfectly balanced composition, David has framed the cinematographer with the arm and side of the model. The model and photographer appear to mirror each other’s stance, Molloy leans to the left and the model to the right. The shallow depth of field distances Molloy from the viewer and gives the viewer a sense of a ‘sneak peek’ at the process of picture making.

David Mist’s archive holds many images of other photographers, both amateur and professional, as though he had an ongoing curiosity about others in his profession. Mike Molloy is one of Australia’s best known cinematographers whose filmography includes A Clock Work Orange, Barry Lyndon and Mad Dog Morgan. When I spoke to David recently about this photograph, he remembered that Molloy, as he does the photograph, always wore a neckerchief.

Today is UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, the purpose of which is to raise a general awareness and to acknowledge the importance of audiovisual documents as an integral part of national identity.

Photography by David Mist

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Car on a dirt road

October 24th, 2014 by


This photograph from the Tyrrell collection shows a family group who have stopped their car next to a “Caution, Drive Slowly” sign in order to take a photograph. According to Wikipedia, the car carries a number plate that was issued to lorries between 1910 and 1924.

The exhibition Auto Obsession, part of our Re-Collect project to ensure greater public access to the Museum’s rich collection features over 25 restored and original historic cars.

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Photography by unattributed studio, Tyrrell collection 85/1286-2488

Portrait of a woman

October 23rd, 2014 by


In this portrait from the Tyrrell collection we can see another example of how a fashionable array of light pins was worn in the late 19th century. The young woman in the portrait above wears two geometric pins and a brooch made of two birds, possibly swallows, linked together by a chain. Her head is turned to the side to better display the jewellery at her throat.

The current MAAS exhibition, A fine possession: jewellery & identity, celebrates the central place of jewellery in our lives, from antiquity to the present day, through a sumptuous selection of jewellery made, worn and collected in Australia.



Photography by unattributed studio. Tyrrell collection 85/1286-1434


Sneak peek: Truus Daalder + Joost Daalder

October 22nd, 2014 by



This short introduction video featuring Truus and Joost Daalder was made for our exhibition ‘A Fine Possession: jewellery & identity‘.  We created an experience for the entrance space to the exhibition, in collaboration with Alphabet Studio, that showcases a range of different collectors of jewellery .  In doing this production we interviewed a range of people including Truus and Joost who shared their story about collecting jewellery and how doing this together has made collecting more enjoyable for them both.  This is just a sneak peek into the longer version that we will be sharing with you in the coming weeks.

Video produced by Leonie Jones, Media Producer

Photography by Marinco Kojdanovski, Media Producer

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Lap timing

October 21st, 2014 by


This photograph of racing car driver David McKay lap timing was taken by leading Sydney-based commercial photographer, David Mist. In 1963 David received the 1963 Grand Prix job  through the USP Benson advertising agency. He went on to shoot the 1965 Shell Racing Series Scuderia Veloce Team, the 1967 Warwick Farm Grand Prix and an open wheeler race at Catalina Park.

See racing cars and other cars in Auto Obsession, part of our Re-Collect project to ensure greater public access to the Museum’s rich collection. Featuring over 25 restored and original historic cars, Auto Obsession comprises a curious, eclectic and fascinating collection from luxury tourers and family sedans to racing and sports cars.

More photographs by David Mist can be viewed in the David Mist archive collection.

Photography and digitisation by David Mist

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Virapaksa with umbrella

October 20th, 2014 by

Document from the Powerhouse Museum Collection

This image of a hand-coloured glass lantern slide shows part of the Ming Buddhist mural painting in the Fahai Si (Fa Hai Temple) in Peking. The mural illustrates the story of “Di-shi Fan-tian Lifo Hufa Tu”, the emperor worshiping Buddha with Buddhist Gods. The figure on the left is Virapaksa who holds an umbrella in his right hand. Next to him are Vaisramana (with a red dragon) and a maidservant of the Emperor.

According to collection records, Serge Vargasoff established himself as a professional photographer at the age of 20 in Peking (Beijing), China, and became a long-term resident of the city. Later he established a studio, Serge Vargassoff Photography, at 3A Wyndham Street Hong Kong, as well as working at Gainsborough Studio in the Morning Post Building in Hong Kong. He was a contemporary of Hedda Morrison who also worked in Peking at the time.

Photography by Serge Vargasoff

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