Inside the Collection

Tag: performing arts

Australia and the Industrial Revolution – driving the first trains

February 13, 2015

Margaret Simpson
We've known for a long time that William Sixsmith drove the first train in New South Wales but we didn't know that much about him other than his important role during the construction, testing and operation of the first line from Sydney to Parramatta in 1855.

The need for speed: saving the Speedo collection

February 9, 2015

Glynis Jones
Once proudly known as the great Aussie cossie, Speedo swimwear occupies an important place in Australia’s sporting and manufacturing heritage. From the company’s beginnings in the 1920s, its aim was to excel in the manufacture of competitive swimwear.

Treasures from the collection: Scrimshaw

January 23, 2015

Anni Turnbull
Scrimshandering, Schrimshonter, schrimshander or scrimshaw as we know it, is the art of carving or decorating whale bone, whales teeth and walrus tusks. The Museum has eclectic and fascinating collections from parasols to fans, netsuke and scrimshaw.

The Queen’s 1954 Royal Tour of Australia – a rare surviving memento

January 14, 2015

Margaret Simpson
Many of the objects which come into the Museum have great stories. One of the most delightful over the last few months was the acquisition of this very rare fabric-covered railway timetable. It was used in the Museum's superb 1901 Governor-General's railway carriage in which Queen Elizabeth II travelled to parts of New South Wales during her 1954 Royal Tour of Australia.

Portrait of the artist

December 29, 2014

Anne-Marie Van de Ven
This rather majestic black and white photographic portrait of Australian artist, designer and photographer Dahl Collings (Dulcie May Wilmott 1910-1988) was shot by her husband Geoffrey Collings (1905-2000) during a trip to Stonehenge around 1936.

Locomotion No. 1, George Stephenson and the world’s first public railway

December 24, 2014

Margaret Simpson
The Museum has an amazing collection of models. One of my favourites is this one representing "Locomotion", the engine used on the world's first public railway. It opened in 1825 in the north east of England to transport coal from mines near Darlington to the coast at Stockton.

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.

Curating shoes: from heel to toe

December 17, 2014

Melanie Pitkin
On 29 November 2014, the Museum opened 'RECOLLECT: Shoes' – a new exhibition inspired by the idea of visible display storage. Comprising more than 800 shoes dating from the 1500s to now, visitors can see everything from the first pair of elastic sided boots in the world made for Queen Victoria in 1837 to designer names like Louboutin, Yves Saint Laurent and Lacroix.

The diary of John James Wirth

December 8, 2014

Peter Cox
Diary of John James Wirth, 1879. Gift of the Wirth family, 2012. Collection: Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. John James Wirth was one of the four brothers who founded Wirth's Circus. One of the gems of the Wirth's Circus collection is his handwritten diary from 1879, describing daily life on tour in northern New South Wales and southern Queensland performing with John Ridge's Royal Tycoon Circus.

Wirth’s Circus — musical beginnings

December 3, 2014

Peter Cox
Johannes Wirth (1835-1880) was a young immigrant from Bavaria who arrived in Australia in 1855 with his three younger brothers. They were musicians who performed as a German brass band. Johannes took to the life of an itinerant gold seeker, travelling with his wife and infants, following rush after rush to the gold fields, all the way from southern Victoria to the north of Queensland.