Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

Rede Hosiery

November 7th, 2014 by


Working together as a husband and wife team, photographer Bruno Benini and his wife, fashion publicist and stylist Hazel Benini, produced many gorgeous fashion shots, including this dramatic image showing a model’s legs in nude toned Rede stockings below a short cream Leon Haskin flounce skirt, for a Rede hosiery catalogue cover of the 1980s.

This particular shot, like so many others, reveals the calibre of Hazel and Bruno Benini’s professional practice, their inventiveness and also their attention to detail. Here together the Benini’s carefully devise a situation where only the model’s elegantly stockinged legs, her skirt and neatly shoed feet will be visible in the final frame. They achieve this effect by having the model recline back onto a black velvet covered table top, so that only her legs, skirt and shoes get captured in the spotlight.

Mario Re Depaolini’s hosiery plant in Parabiago, Italy, was founded in 1936 by a young, energetic couple devoted to the manufacture of high quality stockings and socks. During the 1980s, Rede hosiery was being distributed in Melbourne by Llama Imports of South Melbourne for whom this smartly designed catalogue was produced.

(Recollect: shoes, the next in the Museums storage display series, opens on November 22. The display will feature more than 700 pairs of the Museum’s world renowned shoe collection spanning over 500 years and seven continents, from the world’s first pair of elastic sided boots to designer names like Louboutin, Yves Saint Laurent and Lacroix.)

Post by Anne-Marie Van de Ven, Curator

Photography by Bruno Benini

© Benini estate

‘A Fine Possession’: Anne Schofield

November 6th, 2014 by

Anne Schofield

This ring is one of the unique items in  Anne Schofield’s collection.  We recently interviewed Anne for our jewellery exhibition ‘A Fine Possession: jewellery and identity‘.  Below is the longer form story we created where Anne reveals  her love of being a dealer specialising in antique jewellery for over  44 years.  In this story she describes;

The desire to adorn oneself t is a really basic human need, primitive and in our makeup.  I love all the pieces in my collection but if i had to choose one  it would be the eye ring, which is the most unusual item in the collection , it’s extremely rare and was very  fashionable in the late 18th Century.

For more on this ring watch the video below.

Video created by Leonie Jones, Media Producer.

The Honourable Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC

November 5th, 2014 by


As well known for his interest in arts and culture as he was for his achievements in law and politics, former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam (1916-2014) was a regular VIP visitor to the Powerhouse Museum and is shown in the photograph above viewing the exhibition 1,000 years of the Olympic Games in 2000.

Mr Whitlam also contributed to the Museum’s collection in 1995 when he donated two suits, worn on an official visit to Japan. The suits are currently on display in the exhibition Clothes Encounters, stories exploring the clothing worn or created by a diverse range of Australians, from different eras and walks of life, in response to significant political, creative and social encounters in their lives. Mr Whitlam’s story is called When Gough met the Emperor.

Mr Whitlam is remembered fondly by many current and former members of staff, including Jana Vytrhlik, curator of Precious Legacy: treasures of the Jewish Museum in Prague,  who sent the photograph below showing Mr Whitlam at the opening on 17 Dec 1998.

Jana and GW

Gough Whitlam became Australia’s 21st Prime Minister on 5 December 1972. His Labor government, the first after more than two decades, set out to change Australia through a wide-ranging reform program including the drafting of the Aboriginal Land Rights (Northern Territory) Act 1976, the establishment of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, The Australia Council, the introduction of the no fault divorce with the Family Law Act 1975, free University education, the establishment of the Australian Legal Aid Office, the National Film and Television school, the Australian National Parks and Wildlife Service and the National Health Care system Medibank. Whitlam’s term abruptly ended when his government was dismissed by the Governor-General John Kerr on 11 November 1975.

A State Memorial Service will be held to honour the life and achievements of the Honourable Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC today in the Sydney Town Hall. The service will be broadcast by the ABC.


Photography by Marinco Kojdanovski

© All rights reserved

The fashionable horseshoe

November 4th, 2014 by


The horseshoe was a motif popularised in the late 19th century by British Prince Edward’s enthusiasm for horse racing. The young woman in the photograph above chose to wear a pair of horseshoe shaped earrings for her portrait sitting, a fashion choice that can be seen in other images from this collection.

According to Wikipedia, the association of the horseshoe with good luck may originate with its traditional material of iron, long believed to be a witch repellent. Sailors often nailed a horseshoe to the mast of their ship to keep it safe from storms.

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 85/1286-1403


Portrait of man with moustache

November 3rd, 2014 by


This very elegantly dressed gentleman was probably photographed some time in the 1880s.  He chose to have his portrait taken wearing two different jackets. (See second portrait photograph below). In both photographs he wears a cravat pin, a popular form of men’s jewellery in late Victorian times. (The word ‘cravat’ is derived from Croat and was a fashion that first appeared in France, inspired by the uniform of the Croatian troops in the service of the Emperor Ferdinand of Germany during the Thirty Years War. The fashion reached England thirty years later )

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.


These two portraits of the man with the moustache have also been chosen to celebrate Movember, which began in Melbourne in 2003 as a light-hearted approach to raising awareness of men’s health. According to the Movember website, men are  typically more indifferent towards their health when compared to the efforts of women who proactively manage and publicly address their health concerns. As a result, levels of awareness, understanding and funding support for men’s health issues lag significantly behind that of other causes. Using the moustache as a catalyst for conversation, Movember hopes to bring about change by providing men the opportunity to learn and talk about their health more openly and by encouraging men to take action.

Photography by unattributed studio, Tyrrell Collection

No known copyright restrictions

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 Festival 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

© All rights reserved

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

© All rights reserved

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

© All rights reserved

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

© All rights reserved

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