What is your specialty area?
Land Transport with particular interest in horse drawn transport. It’s hard to claim any field within the vast transport area as a “specialty”, because they are all complex. My interest in transport began with cars and trains in my boyhood, but it was not until many years later while studying Industrial Arts that I chose to write my honours thesis about the Australian motor car industry. While teaching high school I took up a Masters Degree, also in Industrial Arts, to examine the links between the motor car industry and the coach building industry that had preceded it. This led to my discovering that very little research had been done into the latter industry which resulted in horse drawn vehicles becoming a focus. The demands of teaching and a young family were a challenge to the study, so the opportunity to join the Museum in 1980 as an assistant curator of transport was timely and exciting. At that time, the Curator of Transport and Engineering, Norman Harwood, was in his last of 30 years’ service at the Museum, and I was very fortunate to spend my first 6 months at the Museum effectively being mentored before his retirement. “Norm” had a very engaging personality and was a true hands-on professional curator whose foresight, wisdom and experience provided much of the solid foundation on which the new Museum would be built. Norm introduced me to the Museum’s impressive and previously unknown collection of horse drawn vehicles, some of which have since been featured in Powerhouse Museum exhibitions and, more recently, Powerhouse Discovery Centre displays.
How long have you been working at the Museum?
30 years (the time has flown by!)
Favourite object in the collection?
The horse drawn omnibus. This is a special favourite not only because it is a horse drawn vehicle but because it has a particular charm. This is due to its distinctive design, utilitarian yet pleasing to the eye, and the fascinating anecdotes that show how these distinctive vehicles were woven into the daily lives of the residents of late 19th century Sydney.
What piece of research or exhibition are you most proud of in your career at the Museum?
While it is not a discrete project, I’m proud to have had the wonderful and unique experience of planning and executing exhibitions for both Stage 1 and Stage 2 of the Powerhouse Museum. I had the unique opportunity of being involved in all the planning meetings for the first stage of the Power House Museum (as it was then called), followed by the great practical experience of liaising with architects and designers, researching objects, writing labels and installing the exhibits. A few years later, I was part of a large team who worked on the groundbreaking development of the Powerhouse Stage 2, as it was called, then by far the largest Museum project ever in Australia.