Photo of the Day

photos and stories from the Powerhouse Museum

More pearls in the portrait

October 17th, 2014 by

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

This beautiful postcard image is from the studio of Charles Kerry & Co. The graphic elements of decorative plant and flower forms are in the style of Art Nouveau. The woman’s double stranded pearl necklace is long and worn low, in keeping with the looser and more relaxed fashions of the early 1900s.

By the early 20th century the popularity of the postcard was well-established. This image, with the woman’s smiling face and the decorative surrounds would have had wide general appeal for the postcard buying public.

More pearls and other jewellery can be seen in A fine possession: jewellery and identity, the current exhibition that celebrates the central place of jewellery in our lives, from antiquity to the present-day, through a sumptuous selection of jewellery made, collected and worn in Australia.

Photography by Kerry & Co

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Bicycle shadow

October 16th, 2014 by



This shadow shape was shot during the Penny Farthing bicycle race at Steamfest Maitland on April 13, 2013


Photography by Marinco Kojdanovski

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Portrait of Miss Nathan

October 15th, 2014 by


Sitting for a photographic portrait can be an opportunity to display wealth and style. On the occasion of having her portrait done, Miss Nathan chose to wear a delicate necklace made of five strands of tiny pearls, (detail below). Her choice of jewellery may may have been influenced by contemporary trends. The choker style necklaces worn by the Queen’s daughter-in-law, Alexandra, who had a particular passion for pearls, became popular in Europe and America in the late Victorian period.

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 85/1286-1410



Auto Obsession: last weeks

October 14th, 2014 by


Our exhibition Auto Obsession will be finishing on the 26th October so you have only two weeks left to look at more than 25 restored and original historic cars that are curious, eclectic and fascinating collections from luxury tourers and family sedans to racing and sports cars. We also have 600 models from the Museum’s extensive collection of Matchbox cars, arguably the most significant collection in Australia. It has been claimed that in the halcyon days of Matchbox in the 1960s, Australians purchased more of the little die-cast toy cars per capita than any other country.

Photography by Paula Bray

License: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 




Couple under an umbrella, Stuttgart 1931

October 13th, 2014 by


According to our collection records, this image of a couple in regional dress at the Stuttgart Folk Festival are among the few known photographs taken by Hedda Hammer (Morrison) during her youth in Germany. The images were perhaps captured as an assignment undertaken while she was a student at the Bavarian State Institute for Photography in Munich. Hedda has carefully recorded the detail of regional costume and accessories, the shape and texture of hats and the beauty of elaborate headdresses as if discovering and exploring the ‘exotic’ within her own culture.

The festival was held on a bright sunny day as evidenced by the number of umbrellas that appear in Hedda Morrison’s photographs. (And also by the number of photographs that appear to be overexposed). Another, again of a couple with an umbrella, was posted previously on Photo of the Day. One of the many design features of the umbrella is that it is easy to share. In Japanese iconography, two people under an umbrella is associated with images of romance. One art historian has likened it to the Western symbol of a heart pierced by an arrow.

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 1929 Hedda enrolled at the State Institute for Photography in Munich. After completing studies at the Institute for Photography she worked in the studio of photographer Adolf Lazi (1884-1955) back in her home town of Stuttgart.

By 1933 Hedda Morrison had left Germany to work in China. 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. This photograph is one of many that document local craft workshops, is part of the Hedda Morrison Photographic Collection

Photography by Hedda Morrison

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Love shoes?

October 10th, 2014 by


If you love shoes then you will be interested to know that we are bringing out hundreds of pairs from our collection and they  will be on display as part of our Recollect series in November.  The display features the Museum’s world renowned shoe collection spanning over 500 years and seven continents, the collection features everything from the world’s first pair of elastic sided boots to designer names like Louboutin, Yves Saint Laurent and Lacroix.

The pair pictured here were made by Christian Louboutin, designed in Paris and made in Italy, 1991-1996.

Photography by Sue Stafford

© All rights reserved

E.A.W. Special

October 9th, 2014 by


This photograph shows the E.A.W. special, currently suspended from the ceiling of the Museum, and part of  the Auto Obsession exhibition.

This is a light, compact, one-off, home-made racing car built in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney between 1949 and 1957 by E A ‘Wilbur’ Watson, a self-taught automotive engineer who worked with a young Jack Brabham in the early 1950s. 

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.


Photography by Sotha Bourn

© All rights reserved

All rights reserved

Umbrellas, Australia Square, c. 1969

October 8th, 2014 by



Australia Square recalls the piazzas of mediaeval cities in the way that Sydney people respond to what is provided and congregate in its open but contained space.

Harry Seidler, The Bulletin

The photograph above, from the David Mist archive collection, was taken for the 1969 publication, Sydney: a book of photographs. The composition of the photograph places the semi-circular enclosure in the foreground with the diagonals of the wall on the left and the shadow breaking the image surface up into a series of geometric shapes. The umbrellas echo the curves of the enclosure and the circular shape of the Australia Square tower, the tallest lightweight concrete building in the world at the time.

As well as enhancing the design, the outdoor umbrellas installed at the Harry Seidler designed Australia Square complex also encouraged use of the outdoor areas, protecting the people from the fierce Australian sun.

According to Wikipedia, in the 1950s Frei Otto transformed the universally used individual umbrella into an item of lightweight architecture. 


Photography by David Mist

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The lyre

October 7th, 2014 by


The portrait photograph is an opportunity to display proud possessions and fashion consciousness. Jewellery, an age-old signifier of wealth, status and style, features strongly in many photographic portraits such as this one from the Tyrrell collection. What people wore for their photographs can tell us something about them as individuals and also some things about them as a group. In photographs we can observe not only what was worn, but how. The unknown young woman in the photograph wears a brooch in the shape of a lyre at her throat and a blue-bird pin underneath, (see detail below).

The lyre, a musical instrument, is also associated with poetry. The Shorter Oxford dictionary defines lyric as of, or pertaining to, the lyre, a stringed instrument of the harp kind, used by the Greeks for accompanying song and recitation,  and notes that the lyre has since become the figurative symbol of lyric poetry

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 c.1884

No known copyright restrictions


A Fine Possession exhibition view

October 6th, 2014 by

A fine Possession exhibition view

Jewellery has been made and worn for personal, social and cultural reasons through millennia. Styles, materials and practices have varied across time and place, yet the desire to adorn ourselves has been universal.  A Fine Possession: jewellery and 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 Esteban La Tessa

© All rights reserved

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