Inside the Collection

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James Watt and the problematic watt

January 18, 2010

19th January is James Watt's birthday. Born in 1736, he is remembered mainly for improving the steam engine. This medal was minted in London in 1827 as one of a series celebrating great men. Watt is also celebrated by several statues and paintings, a university and a library, a shipping dock, at least two engineering awards, an Austrian coin and a (yet to be released) British banknote.

Lookin’ cool in Courrèges

January 15, 2010

Today, we’re going to take a look at a very cool women’s ensemble designed and made by André Courrèges, the Parisian fashion designer, which was sold through Harrods in London in 1965. It comprises a mini-dress made of bright yellow wool with a white vinyl belt and white wool-acrylic coat.

Haiti Disaster

January 14, 2010

Our hearts and thoughts go out to the people of Haiti as they endure the disaster that has hit their nation.

Pattern Recognition

January 13, 2010

Check silk day dress, (A8072) Collection, Powerhouse Museum. The other day I was working in the basement in the fashion and textiles section when I saw this dress from the 1840s. Silk with a check design of blue, brown and grey, it instantly reminded me of a similar skirt that’s listed on the Australian Dress Register.


January 13, 2010

In the days before air-conditioning, the use of hand-held fans was widespread and necessary to keep cool. Many fans were simple and inexpensive to produce, while others were more elaborate and made from costly materials.

The Bayldon Collection at the Coffs Harbour Regional Museum

January 11, 2010

For most of my adult life I had heard of all the things in my aunt’s possession. Aunty Nan (Nancy Sewell nee Whaites) was a wealth of knowledge and loved to talk about her ancestors. William Edward Bayldon who had been born in England was operating a chemist shop and owned farm land in Adelaide in 1840 when he married Eliza Leaman widow of James Birmingham Kelly.

Boring plastic flowers

January 11, 2010

BORING...was my first thought when I saw these flowers in the Museum's basement when I was researching our collection of early plastics. They looked sad, and like they had been sitting on a shelf for about 100 years.

Collecting Buildings

January 6, 2010

Framing our private and public worlds, the designed environment is too big a subject to ignore. The Powerhouse collection has plenty of of design drawings, models and photographs, but it also has many of parts of buildings.

Calling all apple experts!

January 4, 2010

  Any apple experts out there? We need help in identifying the varieties of these lifelike wax models of apples in the museum collection so that we can match them with our written records. The Museum’s wax fruit and vegetable collection was first created after Museum Curator, Joseph Maiden, saw the Melbourne Technological Museum’s ‘fine models’ of fruit and vegetables in 1883 and decided that Sydney needed a similar display to highlight the agricultural products of New South Wales.

In 2010, I am going to…

January 1, 2010

photographic print of the Croker family taken by Amelia Eve Wong and/or Henry Hackney Wong in Amyville, New South Wales, c.1890-1918. It is one of 237 photographic prints taken by the Wong family in the late 19th to early 20th centuries which document community life, the goldfields and the retail trade as perceived through the eyes of Chinese immigrants.

Charles Darwin and Matthew Boulton

December 30, 2009

We celebrated two bicentenaries in 2009: Matthew Boulton's death and Charles Darwin's birth. Is there a link between these two illustrious Englishmen? The key is the Lunar Society of Birmingham, which counted amongst its members Matthew Boulton, James Watt, Josiah Wedgwood and Erasmus Darwin.

Curating the seamy side- historic pubs in sydney

December 28, 2009

These bars were designed for binge drinking, 1930s style. In those days excessive boozing was usually called the six o’clock swill, a feature of NSW pubs from 1916 to 1955, the period when hotels had to close at six o’clock.