Magnavox Odyssey installed in the Game Masters exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum
As promised, the newly acquired Magnavox Odyssey gaming console went on exhibit in the Game Masters exhibition mid-February. If you’re looking for it, it’s just before ‘Arcade Heroes’ in the alcove of Game Masters; just across from the double click showcase housing similarly exciting game consoles from the Powerhouse Museum Collection. The Magnavox Odyssey, however, is a little bit special, and here’s why: it is the first every gaming console designed specifically for use with televisions.
William Street, Sydney about 1968. Photo by David Mist, Powerhouse Museum collection. Gift of David Mist.
A few years back I was interviewed about the fate of Sydney’s neon advertising signs:
‘The great age of neon has passed,’ laments Charles Pickett, a curator of design and society at the Powerhouse Museum, an institution that houses the AWA sign that once sat atop the eponymous1930s skyscraper, and a red neon greyhound removed recently from Wentworth Park Raceway. ‘The days of William Street being a gallery for neon are long gone. The Coca-Cola sign is all that’s left.’
Since then we’ve added the Sharpies Golf House sign to the Powerhouse collection, another of many well-known neons to disappear from Sydney nights (there’ll be an article about the Sharpies sign in the next issue of Powerline). The decline of neon as a marketing and visual medium is partly one of advertising fashion and technological change – LED signs are cheaper, less fragile and use much less electricity than neons.
Heliostat, Tornaghi, Sydney, Australia, c. 1887 H8086 Collection: Powerhouse Museum .
Do you know what a heliostat is? As with most scientific instruments, I had my educated guesses but didn’t know for sure. Luckily my colleagues are Matthew Connell and Nick Lomb and they can assist me in understanding my curiosities.
The famous Holden 48-215 (FX) standard sedan, production No. 1440 S, made in 1951. Powerhouse Museum collection. B1662.
Australians are reeling with the announcement on 11 December, 2013, that Holden, an Australian icon, will stop building cars here in 2017. How has this happened? With some 66 makes available in Australia these days, twice the choice US drivers have, clearly we don’t like football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars quite enough any more.
Powerhouse Museum Collection object 2012/17/1.
‘Save your Burnt-out Lamps. Repairs guaranteed equal to new.’ This line appeared in Sydney newspaper ads from 1918 to 1920. The small ads included an eye-catching drawing of a light globe with ‘OLD LAMPS MADE NEW’ written inside it. The Electric Lamp Repairing Company had a receiving depot in the city and a factory in the inner suburb of Redfern. The company could repair both metal filament lamps like this one and the original type of lamp, which had a carbon filament.
Aibo entertainment robot. Powerhouse Collection object 2000/12/1.
On 24 November 2013, the Powerhouse Museum will host a Mini Maker Faire. This is a spin-off from the US Maker Faire movement, which encourages individuals to make things and share the joy of making. We don’t plan to have our Aibo robotic dog on display for the event, but we do expect some exciting robots to visit along with their makers. There will be other electronic projects, an interactive musical instrument and 3D printers in action, plus food, jewellery, handbags and other accessories made by people who are passionate about the making process.
Powerhouse Museum Collection object B1465. Gift of the Shell Company, 1961.
Young Sydney engineer Frank Hammond invented the ‘visible volumetric’ petrol pump around 1920 and licensed his patent rights to manufacturers in Australia and the UK. Garages purchased visible pumps to ensure that they were supplying an accurately measured volume of petrol, or ‘motor spirit’, to each customer. They wanted to convince customers that they were getting a fair deal, they didn’t want to lose money by supplying more petrol than customers paid for, and they wanted an innovative edge over competing garages.
Prototype ‘gold box’ cochlear implant or bionic ear, 1979. Powerhouse Museum collection 2011/10/1. Gift of Professor Graeme Clark and the University of Melbourne, 2011
Recent news of a bionic eye prototype being tested by Bionic Vision Australia is exciting for medical device research in Australia. There’s a number of other ‘retinal prosthesis’ devices being developed in Australia and overseas. This competition between different ideas and systems indicates it’s the right time for this concept to flourish.
Regional Services inter n Tom Harwood -Curator at the Qantas Founders Museum in Longreach in Queensland, Image: Michael Myers.
Recently, I spent a week as a guest at the Powerhouse Museum as part of a mentorship through Museum and Gallery Services Queensland. I was asked to write about an item I discovered while I was there but it’s been a difficult choice.
Being an older bloke who remembers some of what was said about the Leyland P-76 when it was new, I was stunned to find that anybody (Castle Hill Discovery Centre) actually put one on a pedestal!
2007/77/8 Photograph, Sydney Harbour, paper, photograph by James Hancock, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, owned by Joyce White, Perth, Western Australia, 1939-1945. Collection: Powerhouse Museum
In recent years the sight of Sydney Harbour filled with navy ships is not a very common sight, particularly war ships.
On Friday 4th October, 2013 the harbour will again be filled with war ships, this time from 20 nations to mark the centenary of the arrival of Australia’s first fleet of seven warships in 1913.