Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

Market Street, Sydney

August 29th, 2014 by

96/44/1-5/4/66/2 Neg 4628 from the David Mist archive.

This photograph from the David Mist archive collection shows Market Street, Sydney, looking west,  in the late 1960s. It was taken for David’s 1969 publication, Sydney: a book of photographs.

On the left is Fay’s shoe store and Pall Mall house, now both gone. Further down on the left is the landmark Gowings building, a 1930s structure that is still standing. On the right hand side is the sign for the famous Repin’s cafe.

Cars are parked on either side of the street and pedestrians weave through the traffic. More cars from this era and other can be seen in the current exhibition, 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.

Photography by David Mist
© All rights reserved

Surfing at Maroubra c. 1900

August 28th, 2014 by

Positive image from a scan of a Powerhouse Museum, Tyrrell Collection, glass plate negative

In this glass plate negative from the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences’ Tyrrell Collection, Maroubra Beach can be seen from the northern headland looking south along the bay. The sand dunes are extensive and there are no buildings in sight. People are swimming in the surf, others are paddling in the shallow waters amongst the rocks, and a dog can be seen in the water near the centre of the photograph.

Two lifesaving groups were established at Maroubra Beach by 1906, including the North Maroubra Life Line Club, the forerunner of the present Maroubra Surf Life Saving Club. Major development in Maroubra only began in the 1910s after Herbert Dudley, a real estate developer, subdivided the land into residential blocks. In 1912 Dudley also lobbied for the extension of the tramline to Maroubra Junction, and the tram line was eventually extended to Maroubra Beach in 1921.  With public transport available for the first time, larger crowds were able to enjoy a swim in the surf.  This photograph is from the Kerry & Co studio.

By 1900 Kerry’s studio was one of the largest and most respected photographic establishments in Sydney. In 1890, Kerry & Co was employing a number of photographers who would become famous in their own right. George Bell, who covered rural New South Wales, was employed in 1890 and Harold Bradley was doing outdoor work and covering events around Sydney by 1899. Kerry’s new four story premises at 310 George St were designed by the architect H. C. Kent and the third floor studios alone could accommodate 70 people wanting their portraits taken.

Photography by Kerry & Co., Tyrrell collection

No known copyright restrictions


Post by Gara Baldwin, volunteer and Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator

Souvenir of Gallipoli

August 27th, 2014 by


The photograph above shows a watch case that was used to house the pocket watch that was posted on POTD on Monday. Both objects come with a story, an unusual occurrence in this part of the Tyrrell collection, where many of the photographs have no accompanying information. Whoever photographed the watch and its case considered it important enough to also photograph some provenance information, (see label below) although we still don’t know the name of the watch’s owner.

The case is of Turkish gilt filigree work, set with crystals and made to contain the watch, which has an Arabic dial, made by George Prior of London c. 1770. Both objects, it appears, were bought in Gallipoli, before World War 1.



Photography by unattributed studio

No known copyright restrictions

Auto Obsessed?

August 26th, 2014 by

AUTO obsession

If you do have an obsession for cars then this is the display for you.  We have over 25 restored and original historic cars featured in Auto Obsession  with a curious, eclectic and fascinating collection from luxury tourers and family sedans to racing and sports cars.

Many of the cars in Auto Obsession are time capsules of automotive history, having had little work done on them other than to preserve them in carefully monitored storage conditions. They can be compared to the much sort-after “barn find” cars in the current collector market.

The car above is the Lightburn Zeta runabout, Lightburn & Company Ltd, Camden Park, South Australia, 1964

Built in Adelaide in 1964 by the washing machine manufacturer, Lightburn, this quirky little two-door runabout was supposed to capitalise on the rise of car ownership in post-War Australia. The car features a dent-proof, rust-resistant, lightweight fibreglass body shell on a steel chassis and was powered by a Villiers, two-stroke motorcycle engine. Its versatile body design saw it as a combination of family sedan, wagon, and light delivery truck. With the rear bench seat removed, a generous load space was created. However, the car had no rear hatch so the doors opened 180 degrees allowing the seat to be taken out. Even the front seat could be removed to allow two adults and three children to camp in it.

Photography by Sotha Bourn

© All rights reserved

Pocket watch

August 25th, 2014 by



“For me the noise of Time is not sad: I love bells, clocks, watches — and I recall that at first photographic implements were related to techniques of cabinetmaking and the machinery of precision: cameras, in short, were clocks for seeing, and perhaps in me someone very old still hears in the photographic mechanism the living sound of the wood.”
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography


Photography by unattributed studio, Tyrrell collection 85/1286-1679

No known copyright restrictions

Ford Falcon 500 gets a wash

August 22nd, 2014 by

Photo Nº: 00x11117

In this fashion photograph, Australian model Di Sweeney stands in front of a Ford Falcon 500 wearing imported Italian fashion, including blue gumboots, from Bottega Boutique in Melbourne. The image was captured by Italian-born Melbourne-based fashion photographer Bruno Benini in his local car wash on Drummond Street in Carlton, Victoria in 1976. (Interestingly Benini himself never drove a car!)

The shot is part of the Bruno Benini photography archive which was acquired by the Powerhouse Museum with the assistance of the Australian Government’s National Cultural Heritage Account in 2009. It is an exhibition print, produced from the original negative for the ‘Bruno Benini: fashion images 1956-1976′ exhibition held at RMIT Gallery in Melbourne, 12 February – 13 March 1999.

I hope this jazzy car shot will entice you in to see the remarkable car collection display titled Auto Obsession which in on display in the Museum for just a few months – so don’t miss it!

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.

Photography by Bruno Benini

© Benini estate

Post by Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator

What is photographic portraiture?

August 21st, 2014 by

Document from the Powerhouse Museum Collection


What do you think? Is it a portrait of two elderly Italian women enjoying a moment in the Florentine sun or a portrait of model Denise Sarrault - or perhaps neither or both, or maybe it’s just a regular fashion photograph? You’d be surprised to learn how passionate debate can be around the topic of portraiture and fashion photography. Some say ‘yes it can be portraiture’, others emphatically say ‘No! It’s not, it can’t be portraiture if it’s a fashion photograph.’ Personally I think the above image is all three (and more) – a portrait of the women in Italy, a portrait of the model AND a fashion photograph.

The photograph was taken in Florence, Italy in 1960 and shows supermodel Denise Sarrault modelling a glamorous sculpted Roberto Capucci outfit. It was taken by Australian personality and fashion photographer Alec Murray. The Museum of Applied Arts and Science collection contains both a print and the negative of this shot. Alexander (Alec) Murray (1917-2002) was born to a well-known South Australian pastoral family that lived on a property named Murray Park (now an Adelaide Suburb). He moved to Sydney in the 1940s where he became a successful portrait photographer with Sydney Ure Smith publishing ‘Alec Murray’s Album’ in 1947.

Murray then moved on to London where he received considerable notoriety as a fashion and portrait photographer through his regular contributions to Country Life, The Daily Telegraph, The Sunday Telegraph, The Sunday Times, Vanity Fair, UK Vogue, Tatler, Queen and The Australian Women’s Weekly.

The Museum’s Alec Murray archival collection documents Alec Murray’s commercial and artistic collaborations with writers, editors, friends, artists, actors, directors and designers over several decades. It also contains a substantial group of portraits, including portraits of the photographer, and portraits of Kerry Packer as a child, Sir Robert Menzies, Australian actor, director and gallery owner, Clytie Jessop, French actress Anouk Aimee, English actors Peter Cushing (1913-1994) and Sir Laurence Olivier (1907-1989), Jean Shrimpton and Terence Stamp, Dame Joan Sutherland, Rudolf Nureyev, Sir Michael Redgrave, Harry Tatlock Miller, Sir Sidney Nolan and a group of intimate British Royal family portraits which Murray took while working as photographer to the Royal family for over a decade between 1952 and 1970.

The fashion photography component, contains prints, negatives and transparencies created by Murray for leading European fashion houses like Galitzine, Capucci, Nina Ricci, Pierre Balmain, Pierre Cardin, Louis Ferraud, Dior, Dormieul, Chanel, Gregoriana, Yves St Laurent, Courreges, Givenchy, Lanvin and others. The collection was received as the  gift of Alec and Sue Murray in 2008.



Photography by Alec Murray

© Alec Murray estate

Post by Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator Design & Society

Woman tending pepper trees, Sarawak,

August 20th, 2014 by


This photograph one of a large number of photographs that were taken by Hedda Morrison (1908-1991) during her years of residence in Sarawak, Malaysia 1947-1967. Hedda married Alastair Morrison in 1946. They left Peking shortly afterwards, spending six months in Hong Kong before relocating to Sarawak, in the north-west of the island of Borneo where Alastair worked for the British Colonial Service and Hedda continued to work as a photographer.

Hedda Morrison, (1908-1991), was born Hedda Hammer in Stuttgart, Germany. She acquired her first camera, a Box Brownie, at the age of 11. In 1931, after completing studies at the State Institute for Photography in Munich and working in the studio of photographer Adolf Lazi (1884-1955), she answered an advertisement in a photography journal for a job in Peking.

In Peking Morrison managed Hartung’s photographic studio from 1933-1938. After her contract expired she continued to work freelance from a small darkroom in her home in Nanchang Street. The young photographer travelled around the city, usually by bicycle, often photographing its inhabitants.

From the 15th century Sarawak was the southern province of the sultanate of Brunei. In 1841 Sir James Brooke, a British adventurer, assisted the Sultan to suppress a rebellion and was made Raja of Sarawak. The Brooke family ruled there until 1945. In 1946 Sarawak was ceded to Britain and in 1963 it achieved independence and became a state of the Federation of Malaysia. When the Morrisons arrived in Sarawak, situated in the north-west of Borneo, much of the land was covered with rainforest, and rivers provided the major means of transport.

This photograph is part of the Hedda Morrison Photographic Collection.   Other images from the same collection have also been posted on Photo of the Day.

Photography by Hedda Morrison

No known copyright restrictions


The Krit

August 19th, 2014 by


The car in this photograph features an acetylene tank on the running board which generated acetylene gas sent via tubes to power the side and headlamps (carbide lamps). Also of interest is the bulb horn and hand brake on the outside and the petrol tank at the rear. Detective work from enlarging the name and symbol on the embossed wheel hub nut  shows the letters, KRIT at 12 o’clock, 3 o’clock, 6 o’clock and 9 o’clock surrounding a Greek-style swastika, for good luck. This was many years before the swastika acquired its sinister German connotation. The Krit Motor Co. was established in Detroit, Michigan, in 1909 by Kenneth Krittenden. In 1911 he introduced this two-seater, 22 hp model with an under-slung chassis and sports body which sold for $800 US. The cars were exported widely to Europe and Australia, where this image was taken. By 1916 the KRIT company was out of business and its works were purchased by another car manufacturer, Packard.

The Powerhouse Museum is currently showcasing its extraordinary car collection in a new display, 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.

00g07494 wheel detail

Photography by unattributed studio. Tyrrell collection 85/1286-2751

No known copyright restrictions.


Post by Margaret Simpson

Curator, Science & Industry

Hack the collection

August 18th, 2014 by

Hack the collection

Hack the Collection is now on as featured in the Sydney Design Festival.  This program showcases 10 objects from the Powerhouse Museum collection that have been 3D scanned and made available to 10 different designers to reinterpret and create new works.  We have the objects on display and they are next to their new interpretations.  If you would like to download any of the files of the 3D scanned objects then you can do so here. The ZIP files provided contain several STL files of varying size and complexity for you to use on the augmented web for 3D printing or other exciting things you can think of. We invite you to remix and reinterpret our objects and we’d love to hear about the interesting ways you’re using them.

Photography by Paula Bray

License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia

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