The Museum’s first Curator, Joseph Maiden (later Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens) was a well known wattle enthusiast. He loved wattles for both their beauty and their usefulness.
There are nearly 1000 separate species of Acacia recognised in Australia. This painting shows the species Acacia pycnantha which as it happens is our official floral emblem.
Back in the 1880s Acacia pycnantha was an important species for the leather tanning industry (hence the title Tan on the painting). It’s bark was used in the tanning process and Maiden distributed thousands of its seeds to schools, post offices, garden clubs and indeed anyone who asked!
To really prove his passion for Wattles, Maiden even named his third daughter, born in May 1890, Acacia Dorothy.
Post by Lynne McNairn, Digital Services
Reference: Yesterday’s tomorrows: the Powerhouse Museum and its precursors 1880-2005 by Graeme Davison and Kimberley Webber (eds)