What is your speciality area?
I’m the museum’s Curator of Space Technology and my areas of interest cover the history of astronautics and space flight, space education and public awareness, and social and cultural responses to space. In addition, since I’m also interested in science fiction and pop culture, I’ve also been involved with the museum’s Star trek, Star wars and Lord of the Rings exhibitions
How long have you been working at the Museum?
Almost 27 years!
What is your favourite object in the collection?
My favourite object in the museum’s collection overall is the Boulton and Watt beam engine, which I’ve always thought of as a gentle giant. Despite its massive size, it produced what we would today consider only a small amount of power-yet it represents the beginnings of the Industrial Revolution that shaped our technological world. It’s actually a lot harder for me to nominate my favourite object in the space technology collection: since I acquired them all, I’m fond of every one of them. I can’t just choose one, but I’ll mention a few: a small Apollo Lunar Module model, produced by the Grumman company to celebrate the Apollo 9 mission, when the LM made its first space qualifying test flight; the fairings (nose cone sections) from a British Black Arrow rocket that were recovered from the Woomera Rocket Range; a waste management system from a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft (yes-a space toilet!) and an Australian space experiment-the Aggregation of Red Cells apparatus-that was twice carried on space shuttle missions.
What piece of research or exhibition are you most proud of in your career at the Museum?
I’m very proud of developing Australia’s first major museum space display, the Space-Beyond this World exhibition (1988-2007), which was the first exhibition anywhere in the world to bring together examples of the space technology of the three Cold War superpowers. When I look back on it now, I am astonished that we were able to accomplish this in a period of Cold War tension. But I think that, even more, I love the ongoing challenge of developing the first international space technology collection in Australia. While the museum’s collection is very modest when compared to the major aerospace museums overseas, the Powerhouse is the only museum in Australia actively collecting in the space field and I am proud to have been able to develop the current collection essentially from scratch over almost 25 years.