Inside the Collection

Meet a Regional Services Intern- Michelle Maddison

Portrait of Michelle Maddison
Photography by Powerhouse Museum © all rights reserved

As pointed out in our earlier post, internships form a significant part of the Museum’s Regional Services program and in this post, we have invited Michelle Maddison, a Curator from the Museum of the Riverina in Wagga Wagga, to talk about her experience.

I was immensely pleased by my stay at the Powerhouse – it met my expectations and I came away with useful knowledge gained both through research and the opportunity to meet face-to-face with specialists.

The Museum of the Riverina has a small but important costume collection. Uncovering the secrets of the collection has been an exciting journey and was the focus of my internship at the Powerhouse in 2009. As part of my internship, I researched a number of garments so they could be entered on the Australian Dress Register.

This research included looking at a tap dancing costume – a tutu-style dress of black tulle decorated with metallic braid and sequins. The dress belonged to Tivoli dancer Pauline Harvey and we thought it had been worn at the Wagga Wagga Eisteddford, in the closing years of World War II. It wasn’t until we put the dress on a mannequin that I realised it was a child’s dress and that Pauline must have worn it just after she began dancing at the age of 5.

At the Museum of the Riverina we have adapted what we have learnt from the Australian Dress Register for practical use. Following an initial workshop with Powerhouse staff, I developed a history of textiles exhibition called Dress for the Occasion. Tips I picked up allowed us to date garments to a more specific time period.

Having had the opportunity to look at the Australian Dress Register and what people are entering onto it, I feel, as someone who works in a regional museum, that it fosters an important sense of community that is especially important in regional museums which can feel isolated from what goes on in the metropolitan areas.

To find out more about the internship program, click here.

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