Poker machine (detail), Queen of the Nile, Mark 1, designed and made by Aristocrat Technologies, 1997-2006. Powerhouse Museum collection, gift of Aristocrat Technologies Australia, 2006.
I read some good news recently – the number of poker machines in NSW pubs has reduced by 2675 in the past two years. More pubs are giving pokies the flick.
I’m interested in this for a couple of reasons: The Powerhouse holds what is probably the only collection of poker machines in a major Australian museum. And we hold a huge collection of photos, architectural drawings and other artefacts relating to pubs. Perhaps more than that I’m fond of pubs, less so of pokies.
Photographic print, Junee Ex-Services Memorial Club, paper, photographed by Max Dupain for Max Dupain and Associates, New South Wales, Australia, 1961. Collection: Powerhouse Museum
Lawn bowls is one of Australia’s most popular sports, It has seen several transformations in its history. Beginning as an occasional public house sport, it was a leisure activity for the male elite in the nineteenth century, then a mass sport for men and women after the Second World War and now appeals to a much younger age group.
Opening day at Roselands, 1965. Australian Women’s Weekly, 27 October 1965, Powerhouse Museum Library.
A groovy shopping mall is a contradiction in terms for many people. Yet that is what has just opened at the Central Park development on Sydney’s Broadway. As malls go the new one is small but it’s illuminated from above by a Jean Nouvel-designed heliostat and according to the Herald, has the personality of ‘a well-dressed hipster with a short attention span’.
Screen by Steven Kalmar, Sydney, c1955. Coffee table by Douglas Snelling and made by Functional Products Pty Ltd, Sydney, 1955. Settee, ‘RS161’ designed by Grant Featherston, Melbourne, c1951.
If you’re a fan of mid-century modern furniture, the Powerhouse Museum’s current display is a must-see. 7 Australian Designers profiles a number of Australia’s celebrated modernists and includes iconic furniture by Grant Featherston, Gordon Andrews, Douglas Snelling, Clement Meadmore and Steven Kalmar.
Underpants worn by James Castrission and Justin Jones during the Crossing the Ice Antarctic expedition. Image courtesy of James Castrission and Justin Jones.
These two pairs of undies are part of a large collection of equipment and personal items used by Antarctic adventurers James Castrission (Cas) and Justin Jones (Jonsey) on their ‘Crossing the Ice’ Antarctic expedition to the South Pole, 2011-2012.
You may rightly notice that the pair on the left does not look like your average pair of underpants and it would not be remiss of you to ask what the unusual thing attached to them could possibly be…
A TARDIS-shaped housing for an early prototype computer-based interactive being developed for the Powerhouse Museum in 1981. Image : Powerhouse Museum
The weekend of November 23/24, 2013 marks the 50th anniversary of the first screening of the iconic British science fiction television series Doctor Who First screened in the UK on November 23, 1963, the adventures of the nameless wandering time traveller and his British police-box-shaped time machine, the TARDIS (Time and Relative Dimension in Space, if you’ve always wondered what that acronym meant), have been shown in countries around the world and become firmly embedded in global popular culture. In this blog post, I’ll explore a few of the Museum’s links to Doctor Who.
Tandem monkey bicycle with toy monkeys. The bike was made by the Edworthy Cycle and Motor Works of Sydney from metal tubing and re-spoked pram wheels. Powerhouse Museum collection 2008/197/2. Gift of Kenneth Edworthy, 2008.
Do you remember the monkeys riding tiny bicycles at Sydney’s Taronga Park Zoo? This miniature tandem bicycle was made for the Zoo’s monkey circus and used between 1936 and 1940. It’s one of the most unusual bicycles produced by the Sydney firm, Edworthy Cycle & Motor Works.
2012/69/1 Mixed media assemblage ‘Deja Vu, Review’, mixed material, Kendal Murray, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 2011. Collection: Powerhouse Museum
Museums have used toys, models and dioramas to explain and comment on the workings of a larger world. Here, artist Kendal Murray has created a miniature surreal world atop an antique purse though her work Déjà vu, Review’. This sculptural mixed media offers a playful look at the domestic world and holiday culture. The miniature world draws us closer, and invites us to investigate.
Cover, The Home, 1 November 1933, artwork by Eileen Gray. Powerhouse Museum collection.
A couple of month’s back I was contacted by a Daily Telegraph journo, doing a story about Sydney’s ‘Gatsby-style’ mansions. Baz Luhrmann’s take on The Great Gatsby had just hit the screens and the media was searching for evidence that 1920s Sydney had glamour to match that of New York.
95/298/1 Film costume, swimsuit, women’s, satin / nylon / sequins, worn by Esther Williams or Edith Motridge as Annette Kellerman in ‘Million Dollar Mermaid’, designed by Helen Rose, made by MGM Studios, USA, 1951-1952. Collection: Powerhouse Museum
Despite being a huge star for MGM in the 1940s and 50s, Esther Williams’ most famous connection to Australia is arguably her role in the film Million Dollar Mermaid where she portrayed the early life of Annette Kellerman.