Category Archives: Technology

Agriculture-themed display for Steamfest 2014

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Powerhouse Museum Collection object B632. AA Stewart Model Collection.

Powerhouse Museum Collection object B632. AA Stewart Model Collection.

This fine model of a grain threshing machine will be on display in the Powerhouse marquee at Maitland Steamfest, 12-13 April 2014, along with model steam engines, toy trains, objects related to the timber, wool, dairy and beef cattle industries, and a wonderful group of historic agriculture-related photos and steam train videos. The weekend event also offers steam train rides, penny farthing bicycle races and much more.

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The Story of Australia’s first Airmail-part 1

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A view from Level 1 in the Boiler House looking up at Maurice Guillaux’s Bleriot XI soaring above the Transport exhibition with other historic aircraft. L611. Image: Powerhouse Museum

A view from Level 1 in the Boiler House looking up at Maurice Guillaux’s Bleriot XI soaring above the Transport exhibition with other historic aircraft. L611. Image: Powerhouse Museum

Soaring above the Transport exhibition is one of the Powerhouse Museum’s treasures, a tiny Blériot XI monoplane. With fewer than 30 aircraft made before World War 1 still preserved around the world, this aircraft would be significant for its rarity alone. But this Blériot, together its French pilot, Maurice Guillaux, also holds an important place in Australian aviation history, pioneering civil aviation in this country by carrying the first airmail from Melbourne to Sydney in July 1914.

To celebrate the centenary of the first Australian airmail, I will be contributing a series of posts on this blog over the coming months, charting the story of Maurice Guillaux, his aircraft and their important contributions to early aviation in Australia.
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ReCell spray-on skin kit: from pure ugliness comes a thing of healing beauty

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ReCell spray-on skin kit

ReCell spray-on skin kit

Feri walked into the packed nightclub. Drunk foreigners yelled and danced, as Western music pummelled the humid air. He headed toward the back of the nightclub and pulled a chord inside his jacket which detonated explosives strapped to his torso. His head tore instantly away from his neck, and nine people around him were torn apart. Those not killed from the blast were suddenly in a world of flame and fragment, and a suffocating need to get away if they could.
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This week, in Game Masters, Part II…

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Magnavox Odyssey installed in the Game Masters exhibition at the Powerhouse Museum

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.

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Neons and museums

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Miist

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.
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Holden is history

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The famous Holden 48-215 (FX) standard sedan, production No. 1440 S, made in 1951. Powerhouse Museum collection. B1662.

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.

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Light globe repaired by the Electric Lamp Repairing Company

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Powerhouse Museum Collection object 2012/17/1.

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.

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A robotic dog, Meccano spirograph and Sydney’s first Mini Maker Faire

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Aibo entertainment robot. Powerhouse Collection object 2000/12/1.

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.

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These petrol pumps are history, but what’s the future?

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Detail of Powerhouse Museum Collection object B1465.

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.

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