When we think of the Industrial Revolution in Britain with its steam engines powering machines, the mass production of goods, thousands of poor farming families leaving the countryside to work in 'satanic' mills and factories and the rise of the wealthy middle class, it's hard to see how this could be applied to Australia.
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After the hardship and deprivation of the 1930s and the anxiety and rationing of the 1940s, Australia experienced great optimism, growth and prosperity in the 1950s. During this decade three Australian-made products were manufactured which became icons in our cultural history, Holden cars, Victa lawnmowers and Sunbeam Mixmasters.
On 24 November 2013, the Powerhouse Museum will host a Mini Maker Faire. This is a spin-off from the US Maker Faire movement, which encourages individuals to make things and share the joy of making.
Young Sydney engineer Frank Hammond invented the 'visible volumetric' petrol pump around 1920 and licensed his patent rights to manufacturers in Australia and the UK. Garages purchased visible pumps to ensure that they were supplying an accurately measured volume of petrol, or ‘motor spirit’, to each customer.
Recent news of a bionic eye prototype being tested by Bionic Vision Australia is exciting for medical device research in Australia. There’s a number of other ‘retinal prosthesis’ devices being developed in Australia and overseas.
Recently, I spent a week as a guest at the Powerhouse Museum as part of a mentorship through Museum and Gallery Services Queensland. I was asked to write about an item I discovered while I was there but it’s been a difficult choice.
In recent years the sight of Sydney Harbour filled with navy ships is not a very common sight, particularly war ships. On Friday 4th October, 2013 the harbour will again be filled with war ships, this time from 20 nations to mark the centenary of the arrival of Australia's first fleet of seven warships in 1913.
To mark the centenary of the Royal Australian Navy, I’ve chosen to feature this naval phone, one of several that were crucial to the operation of the navy’s first flagship, HMAS Australia. I have a particular interest in that ship because my grandfather served on it for much of the First World War. The ‘loud-speaking’ hands-free voice-activated phone was used to communicate between the bridge and engine room.
Meccano model builders, industrial archaeologists and lovers of Sydney's history were bitterly disappointed recently when the Navy announced on 8 August 2013 that the giant hammerhead crane towering over the Garden Island Naval Depot on Sydney Harbour will be demolished.
To mark this year’s Engineering Week, I decided to feature Florence Violet Wallace, aka Florence McKenzie or Mrs Mac, a 1923 graduate of Sydney Technical College who later donated her diploma to the Museum.
The life of women changed significantly with domestic design innovations of the 1950s and 60s, with access to time- saving devices like washing machines. With the advent of washing machines, fridges, kitchen whiz's and hills hoist to name a few, the lives of housewives of the 60s was vastly different to their mothers.
As one of the three ISEA2013 exhibitions closes this week, I found myself reflecting on the artworks and wondering at the possible connections to our collection. One of the most unusual works to experience in Synapse | a selection was Kirsty Boyle’s video Ningyo.