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Meet the curator- Debbie Rudder

June 3, 2009

Photography by Marinco Kojdanovski © Powerhouse Museum all rights reserved

My main research interests are: how our past use of energy informs present and future energy use; and the history and practice of innovation.

Career of a Powerhouse Museum Curator

January 13, 2021

A young woman wearing a kilt is looking at the photographer and stands next to a steam wagon. The steam wagon, which is surrounded by clouds of steam, is standing on a concrete pavement outside a workshop. A steam wagon is a self-propelled steam-powered truck with a timber tip tray. The side of the steam wagon has the wording 'Municipality of Rockdale' for whom the wagon was built and the front has the manufacturer's name, 'Aveling & Porter'. A man with a long beard is standing on the other side of the wagon looking at the wagon's steam engine. How do you condense a lifetime's dream job as a curator at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum into around 1,000 words? Well, my career at the Museum began on 1 February 1983 as a Research Assistant with the Department of Transport and Engineering when the Powerhouse was still a construction site.

James Watt’s Bicentenary: the man and his machines

August 21, 2019

A museum display of an open steam engine made up of a large fly wheel attached by gears to a piston and steam cylinder. 25 August marks the 200th anniversary of the death of inventor James Watt. To mark the occasion, we have invited a guest post by Debbie Rudder, an expert on Watt, to explore his life and scientific contributions.

Remembering World War One: Geoffrey Hargrave’s life in six photos

September 5, 2014

Photograph of Lawrence Hargrave, his wife Margaret and son Geoffrey Lewis Lawrence Hargrave, aeronautical inventor, was one of thousands of Australians who lost a son in World War 1. Among the Hargrave artefacts and papers in the Museum’s collection, there are six photos that tell the story of his son, Geoffrey Lewis Hargrave.

Science Week 2014: Super Sopper and super fun at Castle Hill

August 11, 2014

Super Sopper water removal system   The Powerhouse Discovery Centre will celebrate Science Week with lots of activities on the weekend of 16-17 August. Our example of the Super Sopper, an Australian innovation that has been removing excess water from sports fields for forty years, is one of many objects that will star in behind-the-scenes tours.

Carbon monoxide alert: take care when burning fuel

May 28, 2014

Emergency breathing apparatus used in mines Coal miners are very aware of the risks posed by fuels. Whenever they go underground they carry self-rescuers like this one, which turns toxic carbon monoxide into harmless carbon dioxide. News that a Sydney family was rushed to hospital recently suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning demonstrates that the rest of us should be just as aware of the dangers.

Albert Arnold’s 26-function combination tool

May 12, 2014

Photograph of compact Combination tool   You can have your Swiss army knife or Leatherman. I’m impressed by this beautiful tool designed, patented and made by blacksmith Albert Arnold in Sydney in 1898. It is packed with functionality: ten spanners, a glass-cutter, cork screw, wire-cutter, screwdriver, bicycle repair kit, hammer and tack raiser.

Steamfest 2014 Mystery Object revealed

April 14, 2014

Photograph of Non-electric toaster Would you have guessed the mystery object on display in the Museum’s marquee at Steamfest this year? Visitors to this event, held in Maitland over the weekend of 12-13 April, were invited to have a go.

Agriculture-themed display for Steamfest 2014

April 9, 2014

Model of Ransome’s threshing machine, 1931 This fine model of a grain threshing machine will be on display in the Powerhouse marquee at Maitland Steamfest, 12-13 April 2014, along with model steam engines, toy trains, objects related to the timber, wool, dairy and beef cattle industries, and a wonderful group of historic agriculture-related photos and steam train videos.

Henry Parkes and the ‘crimson thread of kinship’

March 19, 2014

Photograph of Statuette of Sir Henry Parkes, “The Crimson Thread of Kinship”, terracotta / bronze, Nelson Illingworth, Sydney, Australia, 1898 In a speech to a Federation Conference banquet in 1890, Henry Parkes coined the term crimson thread of kinship to describe the ties that bound the Australian colonies. The reference was to shared Anglo-Celtic bloodlines, to the exclusion of Indigenous, Asian and other contributors to nation-building and the nation’s gene pool.