Inside the Collection

TR-1 The World’s First Transistor Radio

May 27, 2013

Geoff Barker
This Regency TR-1 transistor radio was one of the earliest portable radios imported into Australia. It is significant for the way it combines science, design, and culture: the solid state physics that led to the development of the transistor; the aesthetics and functionality of the plastic radio body; and the portability that took radio out of the home and made listening to it more often an individual experience rather than a group activity.

Archaeology Week – the Powerhouse Museum in Greece

May 25, 2013

Paul Donnelly
Archaeology and the Powerhouse Museum go back a long way. The most obvious examples are exhibitions focussing on archaeological material including '1000 Years of the Olympic Games', 'The Great Wall of China', and the recent, 'Spirit of Jang-in' from Korea.

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.

Archaeology Week- ‘Pompeii of the north’ in Powerhouse’s Guildhall Collection

May 20, 2013

Paul Donnelly
There is currently great excitement in London as evidence of Roman lives - wonderfully preserved in the London mud - are being extracted by archaeologists. Among the material are hundreds of Roman shoes, jewellery, waxed wooden writing tablets with their writing styli, jewellery, cosmetic tools, part of the Temple of Mithras and of course, pottery galore.

Lost paintings from the pub wall

May 15, 2013

Charles Pickett
Jim Brown was a former US serviceman who lived in Sydney from 1968 to 1972. Like a lot of people back then he was struck by the oil-on-glass pub advertising paintings which adorned most of Sydney’s pubs.

Julian Tenison Woods, spiritual advisor to Mary McKillop

May 13, 2013

Anni Turnbull
Behind the scenes at the Powerhouse, a team of people has been chipping away at a coalface. They are mining the collection. As part of a TAM (Total Asset Management) project, they are digitising early acquisition records to make sure the collection database contains a record of every item collected since the beginning of the Museum in 1882.

Sirius on the Rocks

May 8, 2013

Charles Pickett
We have just acquired this watercolour elevation of the Sirius public housing apartments in the Rocks.  Most architects’ elevations use a street level viewpoint – this bird’s eye view is different and striking.

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.

Wow – a giant exploded treasure chest!

April 29, 2013

Lynne McNairn
The other day I was walking through the museum and came across a family visiting the Steam Revolution exhibition. Their young son was racing around in typical fashion when he came to a dead stop in front of the above object and exclaimed 'Wow - a giant exploded treasure chest!!'

Discovery of 400 World War One Photographic Portraits

April 24, 2013

Geoff Barker
Sometimes museum work can take a long time to bear fruit and this collection of World War One portraits is a case-in-point. For most of the twentieth century they were buried within the huge collection acquired by James Tyrrell, the Sydney bookstore owner.