The image above shows a few of the chairs in storage at the Powerhouse Discovery Centre: the museum’s off site storage and collection care facility at Castle Hill. The collection stores are generally not open to the public but behind-the-scenes tours and open days are programmed throughout the year. Please be seated was one such tour conducted for Sydney Design 2013.
2010/11/38-2 Tablemat, embroidered, linen and cotton, Kookaburra design, maker unknown, Australia, 1920-1950.
This week is Bird Week which celebrates Australia’s beautiful native birds. It seems the perfect excuse to feature this charming table mat from the Ian Rumsey Australian Textiles Collection. The motif is one of Australia’s best known and easily seen birds, the Laughing Kookaburra.
87/809 Beanbag chair, ‘Sacco’, designed by Piero Gatti / Cesare Paolini / Franco Teodoro, Italy, 1968, made by Zanotta SpA, Italy, 1986.
Beanbags are something I take for granted. They can be found in many homes, in family rooms, teenage bedrooms and even as pet beds. They are available in most ‘bargain’ stores and are a symbol of casual (even grotty) student households. So it seems surprising to find that the beanbag is the product of a deliberate (and radical) design process.
97/63/1-23 Botanical illustration of ‘Acacia pycnantha (Broad-leaved Wattle)’ by Agard Hagman.
September 1st is Wattle Day, the perfect excuse to feature another of Agard Hagman’s lovely botanical illustrations from 1888.
The Museum’s first Curator, Joseph Maiden (later Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens) was a well known wattle enthusiast. He loved wattles for both their beauty and their usefulness.
National Tree Day is a community tree planting event held at the end July. Schools Tree Day is today, 26th July 2013 and it seemed like a good excuse to feature another of Agard Hagman’s paintings from 1888.
This painting illustrates Eucalyptus incrassata a mallee species. Mallees are generally smaller than the better known Eucalypts or Gum Trees and have multiple stems rather than a single trunk. They tend to grow in low rainfall areas of Australia. This painting is titled ‘Oil’ indicating the Museum’s assessment of the potential use of this species.
85/1218 Armchair, ‘Peninsula Tasmania’, hardwood / King William Pine, designed by Gay Hawkes, Melbourne, Australia, 1985
This armchair titled ‘Peninsula Tasmania’ was made by Gay Hawkes in Melbourne in 1985. It is made from shipwreck hardwood, collected at Forestier Peninsula in Tasmania and King William pine.
Tourists drive across the Forestier Peninsula on the way to Port Arthur but it remains very undeveloped and there appear to be few roads to the wild east coast where the artist was probably camped.
This painting is another botanical illustration by Agard Hagman from 1887.
The first curator of the Museum of Applied and Sciences was the botanist Joseph Maiden who later became Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens. In 1887 Australia’s natural resources were little explored. A major focus for the museum during it’s early years was the collection of Australian plants and the investigation of their potential for commercial purposes. During the late 1880s many drawings were commissioned from Agard Hagman.
The other day I was walking through the museum and came across a family visiting the Steam Revolution exhibition. Their young son was racing around in typical fashion when he came to a dead stop in front of the above object and exclaimed ‘Wow – a giant exploded treasure chest!!’
The object in question is the Day Street Boiler and it does have a pretty interesting story. This large end section was unearthed in 1976 during construction of the Western Distributor freeway. It appears to have been used as landfill in the early days of Sydney when land reclamations took place for construction of the dockland area at Darling Harbour, between 1838 and 1848. There were only 6 steam engines operating in Sydney in 1831, which grew to 26 by the end of the 1840s, so the Day Street Boiler is quite a rare piece of metal.
P1223 Botanical illustration, ‘ Eugenia ventenatii (Large leaved water gum/ Drooping Myrtle)’, painted by Agard Hagman, Sydney, 1887
This lovely botanical illustration was painted by Agard Hagman in 1887. It was one of many illustrations included in an extensive display of Australian timbers in the Timber Courts at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (the former Powerhouse Museum). Indeed, when the museum opened in 1893, the whole first floor was given over to the vegetable kingdom. Subjects included timber, food, drugs, oil and many others.
The Museum did not limit itself to just exhibitions and advice, it actively promoted the commercial potential of Australian plants, particularly Eucalypts and Wattles. The display of Australian timbers included drawings, jars filled with leaves and seeds, sections through tree trunks, examples of raw and polished timbers and furniture and fittings made from different timbers.
This painting shows the species Eugenia ventenatii which is currently named Waterhousea floribunda or the Weeping Lilly Pilly (as many gardeners complain botanists are in the habit of renaming species). The 1887 painting is titled Timber and Food. It’s use today appears to be primarily as an ornamental garden tree.
The image below shows this painting on display in the Timber Court in about 1900.
Timber Courts at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, c 1900
Post by Lynne McNairn, Digital Services
Reference: Yesterday’s tomorrows: the Powerhouse Museum and its precursors 1880-2005 by Graeme Davison and Kimberley Webber (eds)
86/4466 Cash register made by The National Cash Register Co, Dayton, Ohio, United States of America, c. 1900
With Christmas over and the sales in full swing, it seemed like a good time to look at this beautiful old cash register.
This cash register was made in about 1900 by the National Cash Register Company, in Dayton, Ohio the first company to manufacture and promote cash registers. This machine is an example of the ‘brass era’ when cash registers were designed to look beautiful as well as register sales. They featured elaborate moulded brass casings and viewing panels so that people could look through to the mechanism inside. Such machines would have been important status symbols and indicated to customers that this was a thriving business.