Inside the Collection

Report from a Powerhouse Regional Internship program 2013

Photograph of Newcastle Museum
Newcastle Museum

Hi – We are – Beth Anastasiou and David Hampton. We currently work at Newcastle Museum. Beth works as the Business Support Assistant coordinating venue hire and assisting with museum administrative duties and David works as Public Programs Assistant and Senior Visitor Services Officer. However, as a small institution we both end up performing a variety of diverse museum related tasks. The Newcastle Museum has a collection of some 10,000 social, Indigenous, technological and natural history objects, which covers the broad spectrum of Newcastle’s story and is a wonderful place to visit if you happen to be in the area! Being accepted into the Regional Internship Program was a great privilege for us from a personal and professional perspective. During our three days with Powerhouse Museum (PHM) we were exposed to a variety of informative talks by PHM professionals. This included workshops on collection management, registration, conservation, public programs and other aspects of museum practice. However, the highlight by far was being given the opportunity to explore the museum’s vast and extraordinary collection, both on-site in the PHM basement, and at the incredible Powerhouse Discovery Centre at Castle Hill. Coming from a smaller museum, we were surprised at the sheer size and scale of the PHM collection as well as its diversity. Going behind the scenes and discovering the “other” side of the PHM was an inspiring experience that we will never forget.

Photograph of Mutoscope photomatic photo booth
2002/103/1-2 Photographic booth, Mutoscope photomatic photo booth, metal / glass / fabric / ceramic / rubber, International Mutoscope Reel Co Inc, New York City, USA, 1930 – 1940. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

Beth: One of my favorite objects in the Powerhouse Museum’s collection is a photographic booth dated from 1930-40 from New York City, USA. This little gem was on display at the Discovery Centre. I have a keen interest and passion for photography so this amazing object certainly caught my eye. I think the first thing I said when I saw this object was “I want this!!”. These photo booths allowed people to obtain instant images of themselves at a time when cameras and the development of film was relatively expensive. Booths like these were often found at public transport terminals. I remember as a teenager my obsession for the photo booths that produced miniature sticker photos. I would always be forcing friends and family into one of these for a funny photo where you can choose different backgrounds. I still have them to this day!

Photograph of dark green hearse trailer
B1270 Tram, full size, hearse trailer, No. 27S, timber / metal, made by Randwick Tramway Workshops, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, 1896. Collection: Powerhouse Museum

David: During our 3 day visit I encountered dozens of interesting and exciting objects ranging from hats to locomotives, but my favourite by far was the Tram Hearse on display at the Discovery Centre. Two of these wagons were used on the Newcastle Tramway system to take coffins and their occupants on their final journey into the hereafter from 1896 to 1949. The Tramway didn’t go as far as the cemetery, but the railway line did and still travels along its border. The Tram Hearse’s job was done when it arrived at Newcastle or Honeysuckle station and its occupants safely transferred to the waiting train.

Photograph of Terry Mooney, Registrar, with interns
Terry Mooney, Registrar, with interns Clancy Matthews, Beth Anastasiou, David Hampton and Ann Oud at Regional Services interns collection management workshop in basement of Powerhouse

Another highlight of our experience involved meeting and talking to the many PHM professional staff members who not only gave us their time and expertise, but provided so much invaluable feedback and knowledge that we can take back to Newcastle and use as our museum careers develop. We had a wonderful time undertaking this internship and we highly recommend those who work or volunteer in Regional Museums to apply as well. It is a unique opportunity that will stay with you forever. We would also like to thank Einar Docker and Rebecca Pinchin for their efforts and support in making this happen.

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