Inside the Collection

Author: Lynne McNairn

A sampler from the Australian Gold Rush

July 2, 2014

Lynne McNairn
The detail above is from a cross stitch sampler in our collection titled ‘'The Emigrants Farewell and The Emigrants Prayer'. Stitched along the top of the piece in very faded red thread (which does not really show in the image below) are the words “This work presented by Maria Tilley to her son John in Australia July 28th 1854" The date is significant because the 1850s were the time of the great gold rushes in eastern Australia.

Home made commode an ‘ensuite’ from 1909

April 7, 2014

Lynne McNairn
A commode is defined as 'a stand or cupboard containing a chamber pot or washbasin'. They date from before the days of sewerage and flushing toilets, when for obvious reasons, the toilet or can was located outside the house, usually at the far end of the backyard.

Meccano orrery for Earth Hour

March 26, 2014

Lynne McNairn
Saturday 29th March 2014 from 8.30pm to 9.30pm EST is Earth Hour, when we get the chance to turn off the lights and possibly consider our place in the universe. This Meccano orrery is a clever mechanical device used to demonstrate the position, motions and phases of our Earth and the Moon as we orbit the Sun.

Pumice from Antarctic volcanoes and Sydney beaches

February 19, 2014

Lynne McNairn
Over summer the beaches of Sydney have seen the arrival of a 'pumice raft'. The high tide line has been marked by a distinctive row of small light weight rocks which floated in on the tide. The phenomenon caused much comment amongst beach goers and gave children an exciting new material for their sandcastles.

Water rat fur coat and a long romance

February 10, 2014

Lynne McNairn
This very unusual fur coat was donated to the museum in 1993. Curator, Glynis Jones recalls, "I remember visiting the donor, Mrs Buckland, she sat me down in her lounge room and sipping a small glass of whisky, related the wonderful story of her coat.

Summer cicadas

January 8, 2014

Lynne McNairn
Sydney is currently enjoying a bumper cicada season. To me, these insects are a potent sound of summer and I enjoy their strident chorus building to a crescendo and then tapering off; the volume increasing with the heat.

A private tour of the post WWII chair collection with Dr Paul Donnelly

November 25, 2013

Lynne McNairn
The image above shows a few of the chairs in storage at the Powerhouse Discovery Centre: the museum's off site storage and collection care facility at Castle Hill.  The collection stores are generally not open to the public but behind-the-scenes tours and open days are programmed throughout the year. Please be seated was one such tour conducted for Sydney Design 2013.

A Kookaburra for Bird Week 2013

October 23, 2013

Lynne McNairn
This week is Bird Week which celebrates Australia's beautiful native birds. It seems the perfect excuse to feature this charming table mat from the Ian Rumsey Australian Textiles Collection. The motif is one of Australia's best known and easily seen birds, the Laughing Kookaburra.

The original Sacco beanbag – very cool design

September 23, 2013

Lynne McNairn
Beanbags are something I take for granted.  They can be found  in many homes,  in family rooms, teenage bedrooms  and even as pet beds.  They are available in most ‘bargain’ stores and are a symbol of casual (even grotty) student households.

Happy Wattle Day 2013

September 1, 2013

Lynne McNairn
September 1st is Wattle Day, the perfect excuse to feature another of Agard Hagman's lovely botanical illustrations from  1888. The Museum's first Curator, Joseph Maiden (later Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens) was a well known wattle enthusiast.

A Mallee for National Tree Day 2013

July 26, 2013

Lynne McNairn
National Tree Day  is a community tree planting event held at the end July.  Schools Tree Day is today,  26th July 2013 and it seemed like a good excuse to feature another of Agard Hagman's paintings from 1888.

An armchair from the wilderness

July 17, 2013

Lynne McNairn
This armchair titled 'Peninsula Tasmania' was made by Gay Hawkes in Melbourne in 1985. It is made from shipwreck hardwood, collected at Forestier Peninsula in Tasmania and King William pine. Tourists drive across the Forestier Peninsula on the way to Port Arthur but it remains very undeveloped and there appear to be few roads to the wild east coast where the artist was probably camped.