Inside the Collection

Australia

The Wirth brothers — from band to circus

December 22, 2014

Peter Cox
After leaving Ridge's Royal Tycoon Circus in 1880 the Wirth brothers established themselves as the Star Troupe of Varieties. With just six artists, including Japanese acrobats and a German comedian, they assembled a program of acrobatics, clowning, contortion, spinning hats, boxing and comic songs.

Ice Bird – the unsinkable boat

October 27, 2014

Kate Chidlow
Restoration of the sailing boat that made the first single handed voyage to Antarctica Dr David Lewis was a courageous sailor, an extra-ordinary navigator and an adventurer with big dreams. He was the first navigator in modern times to cross the Pacific Ocean without using instruments, following a legendary Maori course from Tahiti to New Zealand.

Farewell Gough Whitlam (1916- 2014)

October 21, 2014

Anni Turnbull
Former Prime Minister of Australia, Gough Whitlam led Australia through a period of massive social change from 1972 to 1975 before his ousting by governor-general Sir John Kerr. The photograph above was taken in 1975 at a land hand back ceremony for the Gurindji people in the Northern Territory.

Mechanisation of road building – 1920 steam tip wagon

October 6, 2014

Margaret Simpson
In the early decades of the twentieth century steam-powered vehicles including traction engines, steam wagons, road locomotives, road rollers and steam fire engines were a common sight on Australian roads.

World War One grenades: one with a lifesaving little lever

September 22, 2014

Damian McDonald
The weapon which would conjure up a - albeit highly visceral - image World War One trench warfare would be the rifle bayonet. So much grainy footage of young men charging across no-man’s-land with bayonets fixed gives us the impression that that was the main strategy of trench battle.

Sex and Museums: uncovering a tool of delight

September 15, 2014

Damian McDonald
As part of the Ultimo Science Festival 2014, the Powerhouse Museum hosted a night of the Science of Sex. Along with talks form Dr Karl Kruszelnicki from University of Sydney, evolutionary biologist Professor Rob Brooks, and marine biologist Professor Emma Johnston from UNSW, Museum curators brought out a selection of sex related objects from the collection.

The Marchinbar find – Medieval travels to Australia from Africa?

July 9, 2014

Paul Donnelly
In 1944 when Morry Isenberg discovered nine coins lying in the sand on the island of Marchinbar in the Northern Territory, little would he have imagined they would lead to explosive claims about Australia’s early global connections and, nearly 70 years after this chance encounter, provide the motivation for an international expedition.

NAIDOC Week 6-13 July 2014

July 7, 2014

Anne-Marie Van de Ven
The Powerhouse Museum has an amazing range of Australian and international, historical and contemporary objects which tell us so much about who we are, where we came from and perhaps more importantly, they may help us identify who we are now and where we are going.

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.

Edward Hanlan – world champion rower

April 17, 2013

Geoff Barker
This Commemorative mug celebrates the achievements of Edward Hanlan who first came into prominence as a sculler in 1880, when he defeated the Australian Edward Trickett for the world's sculling championship. Trickett had earlier won the title in 1876 by defeating J.

Aboriginal Breast Plates

February 25, 2013

Geoff Barker
Aboriginal breastplates, like this one, are rare reminders of the relationships that once existed between the Indigenous population of Australia and the European colonists. These breastplates were similar in design to the gorgets worn by Officers in British Regiments and were tailor-made for the recipient  As a result the inscriptions and motifs are significant records from the early colonial period right up to the 1930s when they appear to have stopped making breastplates.

The Water Pipeline to the Broken Hill Mines

October 1, 2012

Geoff Barker
These sections of pipe originally connected the outback mining town of Broken Hill with its the water supply at Umberumberka Creek. They remain significant reminders of just how difficult it has been for the town to find water for both its townsfolk and the silver, lead and zinc mining for which it is famous.