Inside the Collection

Meet the curator- Matthew Connell

Matthew Connell with Thacher's Calculating machine. Photography by Jean-Francois Lanzarone © Powerhouse Museum all rights reserved
Matthew Connell with Thacher’s Calculating machine. Photography by Jean-Francois Lanzarone © Powerhouse Museum all rights reserved

Matthew Connell

What is your specialty area?
My speciality area started as computing and mathematics, but now extends into other areas of IT. It includes calculation and logic, and computing histories, robotics, human computer interaction, new media, gambling machines and digital records.

How long have you been working at the Museum?
I have been at the museum for 17 and half years which some of my friends (esp non museum) think is very disturbing. Of course by museum standards I’m just a newbie.

What is your favourite object in the collection?
My favourite object is the Tote Model built by George Julius between 1908 and 1912 as a prototype and demonstration for prospective customers of his automatic totalisator. It is a beautiful piece of complex machinery which led to the establishment of an Australian company (Automatic Totalisators Limited) that dominated the international tote industry for 67 years. I am also very fond of idea that Australia’s contribution to the history of computing stems as much from our gambling urges as to our military and scientific endeavours.

What piece of research or exhibition are you most proud of in your career at the Museum?
The Curious Economist: William Stanley Jevons in Sydney is a modest little exhibition that I curated with Lindsay Barrett from University of Western Sydney. The exhibition explores Jevons time in Sydney, his approach to science and the impact influence of his Sydney sojourn on his later work in Economics. Reading Jevons’ letters and journal and looking at his photographs for the first time was one of the highlights of my time here.

NB: You can find out more about Thacher’s calculating machine can be found here.

15 responses to “Meet the curator- Matthew Connell

  • Congratulations to all the curators on this marvelous blog! I am particularly loving the curator profiles. I think this is giving a real insight into the fascinating work that curators do, and of course the wonderful PHM collection. Keep it coming!

  • G’day Matthew, fancy seeing your mug here! I have to say this blog is a great way of giving people a feel for the sort of work you folks are doing. I’ve got a number of clients in the museums / archives / galleries field, and I’m using this blog as an example of how to do it right!

    • I must second Angelique’s thoughts – this is a wonderful blog and a great way to get to know more about the museum. I love hearing about what’s stored in the depths of the place – all museums always seem to be so much more than just what’s on public display! And well done on the little video – so good to hear this wonderful little story – there must be thousands more…

  • Fascinating! It’s brilliant to hear the story behind the object and get an insight into the curator career path. Keep the posts coming!

  • Thanks for the feedback. Very gratifying. There are more stories to come.

    Hi Thomas. High praise from the master.

  • Hi Matthew
    We met at the ASCCA conference in 2008 and you were kind enough to offer a tour escorted by your goodself to see the WW2 decoder and the other computer equipment.
    I wonder if you have a spare 30 minutes next Tuesday for three senior computer students? We belong to Compals Eastern Suburbs however this is a private tour request for us to discover, and share later with others, and make them envious (?), and of course encourage them to attend same.
    Hoping to hear from you and many thanks

  • Hi Matthew, you look as good as when I saw you five years ago that the Jevons exhibition. That is still very much on my mind because it served me, as an historian of economics, to rethink how history of economics should or could be done. Could I get in touch to ask you some questions about the set-up of that particular exhibition? Thanks very much in advance,


    • Hi Harro,
      Honoured to have you comment on our little blog! Matthew will be in touch via email. Thanks. Erika

  • Hi Matthew

    What a great photo.

    Just a quick note to let you know we are stuck behind a cloud of volcanic ash. Eugene next door is OK for a while but coud you keep an eye on things for us.

    Thks Ian

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