Author Archives: Anni Turnbull

Convict jacket

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A9762, jacket, mens, convict period, felted wool, maker unknown (war department, made in Great Britain, worn in Australia, 1855-1880

A9762, jacket, mens, convict period, felted wool, maker unknown (war department, made in Great Britain, worn in Australia, 1855-1880

This coarse wool jacket is a reminder of the harsh life experienced by convicts in colonial times. Conspicuous, two- coloured uniforms were made to differentiate troublesome convicts and humiliate them, and ensured it was difficult to escape undetected.

For convicts transported to the colonies of Australia, inadequate clothing was one of the many hardships to be endured. Although many thousands of convicts were transported to New South Wales between 1788 and 1840, few articles of convict clothing have survived. They were not considered prized items to be preserved. The Australian Dress Register documents a few convict items.

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Sir Henry Parkes: Not just the father of federation

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85/1286-509 Glass negative, full plate, 'Sir Henry Parkes', unattributed studio, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1923

85/1286-509 Glass negative, full plate, ‘Sir Henry Parkes’, unattributed studio, Sydney, Australia, c. 1880-1923. Coolection: Powerhouse Museum

Many Australians associate Federation with Sir Henry Parkes and his significant contribution in bringing Australia together in 1901, but he was much more than that. Parkes arrived in Sydney in 1839 with his wife and young child (Sir Henry would eventually father 17 children), finding work as a laborer and later in a foundry. He was also a bone and ivory turner and manufacturer, journalist, publisher, writer and politician.
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Wire has many uses from bee houses to candle snuffers

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90/58-111 Sculptural form, face, glass/metal/insulating wire, Douglas Annand, Sydney, 1950

90/58-111 Sculptural form, face, glass/metal/insulating wire, Douglas Annand, Sydney, 1950

Wire has been a material used in a variety of areas from the domestic sphere to agricultural, medical and applied arts areas. The Museum’s collection has wire products from cake cooling racks to electrical components and to sculptures like the one above made by designer Douglas Annand. The sculpture is a collage of various materials to create an outline of a human face. The central feature is a cylindrical clear glass form containing a blue liquid, with a number of circular indents, creating glass feet, and a nose. Green insulating wire is wound around glass and extends out either side with a green button for each eye.
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An introduction to Eloise Crossman’s 2014 Powerhouse Museum Movable Heritage Project: Addressing Maitland’s Closet Past

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Grossman House (pictured right) and it's neighbor Brough House

Grossmann House (on the right) and its neighbour Brough House. Image Alan Todd, Grossmann House.

Whether frock, gown, robe or shift, regalia or rags, our clothes are and have always been culturally significant. We dress ourselves because it is custom, but also for acceptance, for status and out of caprice.

Humans have invented distinctive costume for every condition and occasion, and a well-provenanced garment can reveal a great deal about a person and or place; a narrative, as it were.

The same can be said of Australian clothing, and that within the collections of the Australian Museum of Clothing and Textiles and Grossmann House.

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Fight the Fly: the only good fly is a dead fly

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Tin, fly killer, rectangular tin with sloping edges, transfer print on upper side of white daisies with cork centres, marked "Daisy Fly Killer contents posionous", with instructions for use, Harold Somers, New York, USA, c. 1888-1929

Tin, fly killer, rectangular tin with sloping edges, transfer print on upper side of white daisies with cork centres, marked “Daisy Fly Killer contents posionous”, with instructions for use, Harold Somers, New York, USA, c. 1888-1929. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

There are 30,00 types of flies, one of the most familiar and widely distributed is the house fly. Besides being annoying it can also carry diseases.like typhus, dysentery, and tuberculosis,

The introduction of cattle to  Australia in 1788 gave the fly increased access to one of it’s food sources, animal dung.

Australian have battled flies n the home and in the paddocks.and the Museum holds a wide variety of approaches to combat flies from poisons like the oddly named and decorated Daisy killer pictured above to fly swats, fly paper and glass flay traps.  

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Farewell Sir Jack Brabham (1926-2014)

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Photographic print, black & white, motor racing, paper, Lance Ruting, Australia, 1967

Jack Brabham driving a Repco-Brabham at Warwick Farm, Sydney, Lance Ruting, Australia, 1967, Collection: Powerhouse Museum

It was sad  to awaken to the news of the passing of one of Australia’s great sporting heroes, Sir Jack Brabham at his Queensland home this morning.  The Powerhouse Museum had a fruitful relationship with Sir Jack and his wife Lady Margaret in the late 1990s during the development of the exhibition Cars and Culture : our driving passion .

We were lucky enough to exhibit Sir Jack Brabham’s Formula One Repco Brabahm car, a Repco engine, and some of Sir Jacks memorabilia in the Museum’s exhibition Cars and Culture: our driving passion (1998-2000). The exhibition explored Australians passionate relationships with their cars and Sir Jack wrote a forward in the accompanying publication of the same name.

Sir Jack Brabham was one of the most accomplished drivers and team owners in the history of Formula One racing. The first driver to be knighted for services to motorsport, and the first Australian to win the Formula One World Championships, he won in 1959, 1960 and 1966. The the final time in a car designed and engineered by him with friend and fellow Australian Ron Tauranac .
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International Museum Day: where Museum collections make regional connections

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96/250/1 Presentation set, design and construction of Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge, wood / metal / ivory / fabric, Allerding & Son, Sydney, 1889

96/250/1 Presentation set, design and construction of Hawkesbury River Railway Bridge, wood / metal / ivory / fabric, Allerding & Son, Sydney, 1889

This post by loans registrar, Katrina Hogan is an example of the Museums regional loans program, highlighting the Powerhouse Museums collection and its important links to New South Wales industrial and social history.

On the weekend 3-4 May 2014, the Dangar Island Historical Society commemorated the 125th opening of the Hawkesbury River Bridge with a series of events and an exhibition about the history of the construction of the bridge.

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Treasure from the collection: the wonderfull world of massagers

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H8281-6 Pamphlet, `The Veedee and its Uses for Women', paper, The Veedee Co, London, England, 1908

H8281-6 Pamphlet, `The Veedee and its Uses for Women’, paper, The Veedee Co, London, England, 1908. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

The Museum’s collection is a treasure trove of the beautiful,  innovative, important and unusual. The vibratory massagers definitely fall into the latter category, as part of the health and medicine and social history collections.

The vibratory massagers were part of a wider self help health regimes and equipment of the late 1880s and early 1900s.  Brochures like the one above asserted the devices  could cure colds, digestive complaints, flatulence, gout, rheumatism, tiredness and general complaints through ‘curative vibration’.  The Perth Daily News , January 22, 1916 carried an article about the ‘Veedee Institute in Perth with further claims for cures of  rheumatism, sciatica, anaemia, deaflness, and all kidney, liver and nerve troubles instantly relieved and permanently cured by the Veefdee Vibra*.

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The Curious Case of Basil ‘DeCourcy’: Anzacs and the alias

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85/1286-1283 Photographic negative, studio portrait of Basil James Ryan (alias- Basil De Courcy) World War One, Gunner, 9 Field Artillery Brigade (Brigade Ammunition Column), glass / silver / gelatin, The Warren, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales, Apr

85/1286-1283 Photographic negative, studio portrait of Basil James Ryan (alias- Basil De Courcy) World War One, Gunner, 9 Field Artillery Brigade (Brigade Ammunition Column), glass / silver / gelatin, The Warren, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales, April 1916. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Discovering the identities of World War One soldiers from the Tyrrell Collection portraits has often been a difficult and tedious process. A contributing factor to this difficulty is the use of aliases by soldiers. According to military historian Neil Smith, the “incidence of aliases being used is frequently underestimated” within the AIF. The prevalence of aliases means that the real names of soldiers are “often difficult to establish”.
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World War One Soldier Portraits- a sense of being Australian, slouch hats and emu plumes

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Photographic negative, studio portrait of William Grant Green, World War One, Gunner, 9 Field Artillery Brigade (33rd Battery), glass / silver / gelatin, The Warren, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales, March-April 1916. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Photographic negative, studio portrait of William Grant Green, World War One, Gunner, 9 Field Artillery Brigade (33rd Battery), glass / silver / gelatin, The Warren, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales, March-April 1916. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

As we approach the centenary of World War One commemorative activities will be taking place across the world by all the countries involved in World War One. Australia’s responses will include exhibitions, publications and re-enactments of recruitment drives like the Coo-ee and Kangaroo marches in 1916 .

The Museum has been researching its collections linked to the war. We have discovered our very own ‘Lost Diggers’ collection, though on a smaller scale. A collection of 404 World War One soldier portraits are part of the Museum’s extensive Tyrrell Photographic Collection.
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