Deborah Turnbull, Assistant Curator, in the basement with a few of her favourite things. Image Powerhouse Photography
What is your specialty area?
Well, I have two art history degrees, so the short answer is art. The long answer is I used to be thoroughly obsessed with gendered architecture, until I discovered contemporary art in the last year of my undergraduate degree. I knew of it from a year 11 trip to the Vancouver Art Gallery where Andy Warhol was featured, but I think the turning points for me were when I discovered the sculptures of Eva Hesse and the film works of Matthew Barney. I was hooked!
Continue reading ‘Meet the curator – Deborah Turnbull’
Powerhouse Museum Collection, object 2006/54/1. Gift of Quantum Technology Pty Ltd, 2006.
This neat Australian-made Braille note-taker, the Jot a Dot, is on display in the Powerhouse Museum’s version of Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention. I selected it to complement the story of inventor Louis Braille, which came with the exhibition but without any objects.
When curator Angelique Hutchison acquired the Brailler, she also acquired a suite of design process material, which adds greatly to its value as an example of product design. Concept sketches, which sadly are not often kept, are of particular interest as they provide some insight into the designer’s first thoughts on a project.
Continue reading ‘Beyond the object: collecting design process material’
Powerhouse Museum Collection, object H5332-2. Gift of L J Williams, 1954.
After walking up the garden path, visitors to this exhibition will enter Wallace & Gromit’s front room and discover three showcases filled with inventions. One traces the history of the telephone, from an early wall-mounted wooden box with hand-wound dynamo to the first mobile phone designed and made in Australia. There are also four futuristic Nokia concept phones, which reinforce the storyline that invention is not a once-only process. As soon as the first phone was invented, its developer (Alexander Graham Bell) and others sought to improve all its parts, and the process has never ended.
This ‘EiffelTower’ telephone was made by US company Western Electric around 1900. It was probably made in Britain, which supplied most of the Western Electric phones used in Australia. Its design was copied from an Ericsson phone, and its nickname derives from the shape of its legs.
Continue reading ‘Wallace and Gromit’s World of Invention: Eiffel Tower telephone’
The player piano is on the left and the organ pipes and effects box on the right H10302
The Powerhouse Museum’s Style 20 Fotoplayer is a wonderful instrument on display in the Kings Cinema within the Museum. It was made to provide music and sound effects to accompany silent movies and is an upright player piano, with an effects box.
When a roll is played, it activates the piano and the organ sections, but the other special effects need to be operated by hand. This means that the person operating the Fotoplayer needs to know the movie they are accompanying really well, so that they can operate the effects at the right time (doorbells, gunshot sounds from the drums etc etc.). No mean feat! Continue reading ‘The Museum’s fotoplayer comes to life again’
96/43/1 Transistor radio, flower basket, , Toshiba, Tokyo Electrical Company Limited, Japan, 1957; Collection Powerhouse Museum
A transistor radio, designed as an ‘oriental’ flower basket by Toshiba in 1957 for the western market, recently came to the conservation lab for treatment. It is made of cream and red plastic with a chrome handle and it has a radio and speaker inside. From the outside, the radio seemed to be in reasonable condition so conservator, Vanessa Pitt gave it a surface clean. She wanted to remove the dust that could be seen through the slats in the base of the radio.
Continue reading ‘The conservation of a transistor radio’
90/91 Poster, `Buy CAAMA Cassettes', paper, designed by Michael Callaghan and Jeff Stewart, made by Redback Graphix, Wollongong, 1984. Collection: Powerhouse Museum
The above bi-lingual screenprinted poster design by Michael Callaghan, was produced at Redback Graphix in Wollongong in 1984 for CAAMA, the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (established 1980). CAAMA is owned by the Aboriginal people of Central Australia, and aims to advance social, cultural and economic benefits to local people. CAAMA was the first Aboriginal group in Australia to be allocated a broadcasting licence, and this poster is one of the earliest bi-lingual posters designs produced for an Aboriginal community.
Continue reading ‘Michael Callaghan 1952-2012′
Mark Daly with Mr and Mrs Devil
How do museums, particularly large museums keep going on a daily basis? What do people in these departments called front of house and security do?
Fellow curator Geoff Barker and I thought we would show a glimpse of some of the hidden workers photographed with their favourite Museum objects.
Continue reading ‘International Museums Day 2012, behind the scenes’