Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

The garden in the studio

March 6th, 2014 by


The rustic look set was one way to bring the outdoors into the studio and create a portrait with all the romance of the countryside and none of the disadvantages of hot, cold, wet or windy weather. Sometimes this effect was achieved with the use of a painted backdrop, as can be seen in another portrait posted previously on Photo of the Day.

The young woman has been photographed in profile, gazing out of the frame, rather than directly engaging with the viewer. One of the most appealing aspects of this photograph is the way that the gradations of tones in the background have faded and formed a type of halo around her head and shoulders.



Photography by unattributed studio, Tyrrell collection 66/290A

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Ape with tree

March 5th, 2014 by


This photograph of an ape is one of two photographs titled ‘Ape’ in a series of unattributed photographs in the Museum’s Tyrrell collection. The photograph is unusual in that most of the photographs of live non-native animals in the Tyrrell collection were taken at the Moore Park Zoo but this animal does not appear to be captive.

Apes and monkeys, captured in Africa, were popular pets in Victorian times when the transportation of animals was less regulated.

Photography by unattributed studio, Tyrrell collection 85/1286-313

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A stroll on the Bridge

March 4th, 2014 by


This photograph of the Sydney Harbour Bridge is dated January, 1932. The Bridge was not officially opened until March 19, 1932 but this photograph shows a group of people –  two men, two women and a little girl –  who appear to have been privileged with behind the scenes access whilst construction was still underway. Men at work can be seen above them on the ladder centre right.

According to the Museum’s collection records, this print is one of a series of photographs commissioned by the Department of Public Works. As a group they document the construction of the Sydney City Underground Railway and the Sydney Harbour Bridge between 1922 and 1932. The photographs are thought to have been made under the supervision of A. J. Kent, New South Wales Government Printer, between 1923 and 1943.  While individual photographs were taken by different photographers, they all worked under the supervision of Robert Bowden, at the Public Works Department.

Photography by the New South Wales Department of Public Works, Sydney, Australia, January, 1932

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The Duke and the bears

March 3rd, 2014 by

66/224b Group of men in the twenties

This photograph, from the Museum’s Tyrrell collection, shows Henry, the Duke of Gloucester at the Koala Park Sanctuary in West Pennant Hills, Sydney on November 27, 1934. It was the Duke’s first visit to Australia. The Duke’s visit to the Koala Park Sanctuary, in the company of a party of old Etonians, was also filmed and can be viewed on the site.

The park was founded and run by Noel Burnet, (holding the bears) an Australian environmentalist and fellow of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales. Noel Burnet published an article about his vision for the park in December of the same year. The article can be viewed on Trove.

The Duke of Gloucester was reportedly ‘intensely fascinated by the bears’ and his visit to Burnet’s sanctuary was not his first encounter with Koalas. In Adelaide on October 19 he was also photographed at a  Koala park in Adelaide. That photograph, which can be viewed in The Perth Daily News on Trove, became the tour’s most popular image of the Duke. It also made history as the the first wireless photograph to be published – in the UK Daily telegraph just twenty-five minutes after being handed in at Melbourne.

In 1945 the Duke of Gloucester returned to Australia with his wife and two young sons, William and Richard, to become the Governor-General. The Duke replaced Lord Gowrie as Governor-General and after being sworn in on 30 January 1945, he served in the position for a period of two years.

More about Henry, Duke of Gloucester and Governor General of Australia can be found on the Australian Dictionary of Biography online.

Today is UN World Wildlife Day.  According to the United Nations website:

World Wildlife Day is an opportunity to celebrate the many beautiful and varied forms of wild fauna and flora and to raise awareness of the multitude of benefits that conservation provides to people. At the same time, the Day reminds us of the urgent need to step up the fight against wildlife crime, which has wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts.


Post by Kathy Hackett, Photo Librarian

Photography by unattributed studio, Tyrrell collection 66/224b

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Mardi Gras

February 28th, 2014 by

Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade 1st March 2003, CL&DR-SCN-691-26a

This photograph by Powerhouse Museum Photography department manager Geoff Friend shows Ron Muncaster at the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade in 2003, the year Mardi Gras honoured Ron’s contribution to the parade with a retrospective of his prolific and memorable output of costumes.  From the very early days of Mardi Gras Ron has been enlivening the parade with his creative dressing. He is now an acknowledged Mardi Gras legend, having won more awards for his costumes than any other contestant in the parade’s history.

One of the highlights of the  current Powerhouse exhibition, Clothes Encounters is the extraordinary Cotton Blossom and Arabesque costumes designed by Ron Muncaster and worn in the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras parade by Ron and his late partner Jacques Straetmans.

Clothes Encounters draws on the Powerhouse Museum’s diverse fashion and dress collection and features ten stories exploring the clothing choices made by a range of Australians, from different eras and walks of life, in relation to significant political, creative and social encounters in their lives.

From the imposing formality of the morning suit Gough Whitlam wore to meet the Emperor and Empress of Japan in 1973 to the evening gown more frequently referred to as ‘That dress’ worn by Sonia McMahon to a dinner with president Nixon at the Whitehouse in 1971 the exhibition is a reminder that the fashion a dress choices we make reflect our aspirations and identity, and more broadly form part of a society’s cultural expression.

Glynis Jones
Curator Fashion & Dress


Happy Mardi Gras!

Photography by Geoff Friend, Manager, Photography.

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Photography by Kerry & Co., by Appointment to his Excellency, The Governor

February 27th, 2014 by

PHOTS-MMN-318-1 99/119/2-1 Mme Juliette Henry portrait

Following on from Lynne’s posts on the Lord and Lady Carrington, I thought that I should add something about the vice regal couple’s connection to the Museum’s Tyrrell collection of historical photographs.

This photograph of Madame Juliette Henry has been posted previously on Photo of the Day but this time it appears not only because of its very interesting subject but because of the circumstances of its production. Madame Henry was one of many high profile clients who chose the Kerry studio for their portraits. The mount used for her portrait, (appropriately a French panel), bears the royal coat of arms and the superscription, ‘By appointment to His Excellency, The Governor’.

It was in 1890, during Lord Carrington’s time in office that Charles Kerry received vice regal patronage. The coat of arms and superscription was also proudly displayed at the front of Kerry’s premises at 308 George Street. Endorsement from the Queen’s representative would have added status to Kerry’s already very successful business.

According to David P. Millar in his book, Charles Kerry’s Federation Australia, soon after the Carringtons arrived in Sydney in 1885 Kerry formed a friendship with Lord Carrington and assisted Lady Carrington, an amateur enthusiast, with her photographic endeavours. In Picturing Australia: a history of photography, Anne-Marie Willis notes that Kerry, unlike other photographers of the time,  actually became part of the ruling establishment. He was a member of the New South Wales Lancers, fond of hunting and fishing and was one of the pioneers who opened up Mount Kosciusko to skiers.


PHOTS-MMN-318-1 99/119/2-1 Mme Juliette Henry portrait



Post by Kathy Hackett, Photo Librarian


Photography by Kerry & Co.

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Who were Lord and Lady Carrington

February 26th, 2014 by

+2013/23/53-76  Postcard, photomechanical print, Lord Carrington, Governor of New South Wales, 1885-1900, printed in aid of the Home for Consumptive Women, ink / paper, original photograph H. Newman, Sydney, New South Wales, 1902-1906

Over the past few weeks I’ve written quite a few posts about things named ‘Carrington’. There has been Lady Carrington Drive, the Carrington Hotel, Carrington Falls and Carrington Street. All these landmarks are located within 150 km radius of Sydney and it seems they were all named after the august gentleman featured on this postcard and his good lady wife!

Charles Robert Carrington [1843-1928] was Governor of New South Wales from 1885 to 1890; a period of only five years however according to the Australian Dictionary of  Biography both he and his wife left a deep impression.  Lord Carrington was an able administrator who handled many difficult situations with great tact and diplomacy. The couple were much admired for their warmth and generosity and received people at all levels of society  in the same polite and unaffected manner.

This postcard featuring Lord Carrington’s portrait was produced and sold for charity, the Queen Victoria Home for Consumptive Women.  Lady Cecilia Carrington was well known for her charity work.  She established the Jubilee Fund to relieve distressed women and her management of it surprised contemporaries by ‘a business capacity with which women are rarely credited’.

When the Carrington’s departed in 1890 thousands lined the streets and showered their carriage with flowers. Back in England, Lord Carrington continued his support by espousing Australian nationalism (he was good friends with Henry Parkes) in the lead up to Australian Federation in 1901.

The deeds of the Carrington’s are perhaps no longer well remembered but the many landmarks named in their honour reflect the high esteem they were held in the colony of New South Wales.

Post by Lynne McNairn, Web and Social Technologies

Photography: H Newman (2013/23/53-76)

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Sydney Harbour Bridge at night

February 25th, 2014 by


This photograph of Sydney Harbour Bridge at night was taken by photographer David Mist looking west from his  home at Kirribilli in the late 1960s. The photograph was reproduced in David 1969 publication, Sydney: a book of photographs. In the book the photograph occupies a double page and is the first of a number of night shots used in a section illustrating the ‘moods’ of the Bridge. This beautiful image shows how little information is needed to identify the best known Sydney icon.

This image of the bridge in darkness also brings to mind the practice of ‘bridging’, the illegal climbing of the arch of the Bridge that usually took place well after sunset, in the days before the officially sanctioned Bridge Climb and CCTV cameras.

The photograph is from the David Mist photographic archive. Other images from the archive, including many of David’s views of the Bridge, have been published previously on Photo of the Day.

Photography by David Mist
© All rights reserved

Carrington Street without buses

February 24th, 2014 by

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

Any commuter who travels by bus over the Harbour Bridge will be familiar with Carrington Street behind Wynyard Station in Sydney’s CBD.  Carrington Street is a major bus terminus  and today would be crowed with buses and commuters especially during the morning and evening peak periods.

The image above dates from about  1900 shows a very peaceful scene with just a few hansom cabs waiting for fares beside Wynyard Park.   For a commuter in 2014 the sight of  Carrington Street without buses is a most unwelcome sight; it usually means an accident on the Harbour Bridge and a long wait to get home!

Carrington Street, Sydney, 2014

Carrington Street in 2014. Photo: L McNairn

Post by Lynne McNairn, Web and Social Technologies

Photography: Kerry & Co (85/1284-1513)

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Game Masters

February 21st, 2014 by

game masters

This has been recently shot in our Game Masters exhibition that features over 100 playable games, this highly interactive exhibition celebrates the work of the world’s most influential videogame designers and showcases some of the most ground-breaking games ever made across arcades, consoles, PC and mobile platforms.  This colourful and highly interactive exhibition is presented in three sections, there is a  live gaming universe where visitors can experience their favourite games through both traditional arcade machines and consoles and large-scale displays.  Featured is game design and development through rare original game artwork, 2D objects and revealing interviews with game designers.

Photography by Sotha Bourn

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