Inside the Collection

Refugee Week, ‘No more running a mother and daughter story’

June 18, 2012

Melanie Pitkin
To recognise National Refugee Week, we invited Widyan Al-Ubudy, an up-and-coming journalist and media personality to write a post for the Museum about her personal experiences with refugees. Widyan, 20, originally from Iraq, was born in a refugee camp in Saudi Arabia after her family escaped Saddam Hussein's regime in the early 1990s.

Cleopatra’s Needle or ‘Thornton’s Scent Bottle’

June 13, 2012

Geoff Barker
This photograph was taken from George Street, Sydney and looks up Bathurst Street. At the very end, where it joins Elizabeth Street and Hyde Park, the single most obvious feature of the photograph can still be seen today.

The conservation of a transistor radio

June 11, 2012

Kate Chidlow
A transistor radio, designed as an ‘oriental’ flower basket by Toshiba in 1957 for the western market, recently came to the conservation lab for treatment. It is made of cream and red plastic with a chrome handle and it has a radio and speaker inside.

Photographing the 1874 Transit of Venus

June 6, 2012

Geoff Barker
The Transit of Venus on 6 June 2012 is the latest occurrence of an event that has shaped the scientific history of Australia. Captain Cook’s expedition to observe the 1769 transit in Tahiti led to the European settlement of Australia.

The Ukulele Craze

June 4, 2012

Lynne McNairn
Recently ukuleles have been undergoing quite a revival with ukulele clubs and festivals springing up all over the world (there are at least seven clubs in Sydney). But Hawaiian music and ukuleles were very popular in Australia during the 1920s and 1930s and remained so until the 1950s.

Road signs as art

May 30, 2012

Anni Turnbull
Surrounded by signs in our daily city existence sometimes we notice them, hopefully when driving or crossing the road. But often they meld into an overall of street scenery. There is an abundance of signs in urban landscapes as captured by photographer David Mist in the 1960s pictured below.

Dursley Pedersen bicycle

May 28, 2012

Margaret Simpson
How do you ride this bike, where's the seat? This rare gentleman's bicycle in our collection takes its name from its Danish inventor, Mikael Pedersen, and the Gloucestershire town in England where it was made.

Michael Callaghan 1952-2012

May 25, 2012

Anne-Marie Van de Ven
The above bi-lingual screenprinted poster design by Michael Callaghan, was produced at Redback Graphix in Wollongong in 1984 for CAAMA, the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (established 1980).

Fact or fiction using forensic science in conservation

May 23, 2012

Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences
Trying to date an object can be a challenge particularly if it has been in the collection a while with little background information. Now there are a few ways of identifying the origins of an object.

Curious Communications

May 21, 2012

Lynne McNairn
Recently I blogged about how sedan chairs (seen here on display in our Transport Exhibition) were used in London in the 1600 and 1700s. However sedan chairs were never really used in Australia so how did this peculiar item end up here?

International Museums Day 2012, behind the scenes

May 18, 2012

Anni Turnbull
How do museums, particularly large museums keep going on a daily basis? What do people in these departments called front of house and security do? Fellow curator Geoff Barker and I thought we would show a glimpse of some of the hidden workers photographed with their favourite Museum objects.

Books, the best thing since sliced bread

May 17, 2012

Anne-Marie Van de Ven
In this National Year of Reading, it is appropriate that the Powerhouse Museum mounts an exhibition which celebrates excellence is Australian book design and publishing. While the Museum collection contains hundreds of books, including the two children’s books illustrated above (one hand made in Australia by 13 year old William Harrison for his niece in England, the other published in England but used in Australian schools), it holds very few winning books from the Australian Publishers Association (APA) annual Book Design Awards (BDA).