Inside the Collection

Metal craft

Gold Rush: the story of a steam engine

January 20, 2014

Debbie Rudder
When I first saw this engine, running quietly on steam in the Powerhouse Museum, and read that it powered a gold dredge on the Ovens River in Victoria, I imagined a fairly benign operation, sucking up part of the river bed, extracting gold from it, and replacing the material.

One armed bandits

January 15, 2014

Charles Pickett
I read some good news recently – the number of poker machines in NSW pubs has reduced by 2675 in the past two years. More pubs are giving pokies the flick. I’m interested in this for a couple of reasons: The Powerhouse holds what is probably the only collection of poker machines in a major Australian museum.

Light globe repaired by the Electric Lamp Repairing Company

December 9, 2013

Debbie Rudder
‘Save your Burnt-out Lamps. Repairs guaranteed equal to new.’ This line appeared in Sydney newspaper ads from 1918 to 1920. The small ads included an eye-catching drawing of a light globe with ‘OLD LAMPS MADE NEW’ written inside it.

An evocative object: sail-maker’s seam rubber

May 22, 2013

Debbie Rudder
When I picked up this small bone tool in our basement store, I experienced a visceral reaction, the shock of sudden realisation: it linked me to a great-grandfather I never met. The object evoked thoughts and emotions as I remembered listening to countless stories told by my grandfather, Hal Hooker.

Powerhouse Museum Movable Heritage Fellow for 2013 -Leanne Wicks from Kandos

May 6, 2013

Anni Turnbull
Coming up with an idea for a research project was not difficult for me living on the edge of the Western coalfield of NSW.  Evidence of Kandos’ past reliance on the winning of coal doesn’t take much digging.  With superior Kandos cement from kilns heated with Kandos coal contributing to the concrete footings and pylons of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, no wonder it stands strong after 80 years.  Evidence of the region’s present reliance on coal is also easy to find with many coal mines dotting the landscape.  Fascinated by the objects in the Kandos Bicentennial Industrial Museum that came from the Kandos Collieries located within a kilometre of the back door, I want to tell the story of the many men who have mined this black treasure from 1913 to 2001.  Having grown up with green coloured glasses, I’m enjoying the challenge of respecting the history of coal-mining, researching the facts about this industry and recoiling at what some mines are doing to the land.  In just the same way as you always see the same type of car that you’ve just purchased, but never really noticed that model before, I am finding coal everywhere.  From statues of miners in Lithgow to 1936 maps of NSW minerals in my late grandfather’s books.  Being a city girl, I have not grown up with any sort of wood heating and cannot share in people’s memories of the smell of coal, but I am a poet and there’s plenty of coal miner’s poetry to be found in Kandos.  There must be some time for musing underground.  And before you think that coal references can be boring, even Alfred, Lord Tennyson describes the amazing knight, Sir Lancelot: His broad clear brow in sunlight glow'd; On burnish'd hooves his war-horse trode; From underneath his helmet flow'd His coal-black curls as on he rode, As he rode down to Camelot.

3D scanning in the 1930s

March 6, 2013

Debbie Rudder
If you visit the Powerhouse Museum between 10 am and 1 pm on 9 March for our 25th birthday celebrations, you will be able to see the accurate detail captured in this bronze bust of Sydney pharmacist Ernest Pollock.

What does a curator really do in a day?

May 14, 2012

Min-Jung Kim
People often ask me what curators do. Usually my answer is "we research, collect, document and display objects.” However, this answer doesn’t seem to satisfy people who wonder what really goes on behind the scenes in the museums and galleries.

Traditional Korean gongs – reflection and resonance

April 23, 2012

Anni Turnbull
“Ask Koreans ... what appeals in Korean music and typical responses will focus on feelings ... Korean music tugs at the heartstrings. Korean music – and, by extension, Korean musical instruments...

How to make a nib – a story of gold rainbows and diamonds for Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2012

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
I struck gold in the basement last week: 14 carat gold in the form of this delightful didactic display showing stages in making a fountain pen nib. Note the shape of the ‘breather hole’, which exposes ink to the air and helps it move smoothly towards the writing tip: a tiny heart.