The Geoscience Australia collection comprises a Sun 2 computer system, plus associated manuals. The system, nicknamed 'Annie', was installed in the Bureau of Mineral Resources' seismological centre in Canberra in 1984. It played a key role in the Bureau's nuclear explosion monitoring program until being decommissioned in 2002.
As the nation's largest geological survey the Bureau of Mineral Resources (now Geoscience Australia) has extensively mapped and interpreted the geology of Australia, provided geoscientific data and monitored geohazards. In 1984, as part of Australia's contribution to the control of the spread of nuclear weapons, the Bureau established a facility to detect and identify underground nuclear explosions
This collection consists of works made during the 1990s by artists at the Ngkawenyerre camp in the Utopia homelands, NT. The works are varied in size and media, and in good condition. All works refer to aspects of the 'Awelye' ceremony and feature women's body paint designs. The associated ceremonies are an integral part of community life and the 'Awelye' is performed by women to ensure the fertility of the land, spiritual and physical well-being and social harmony.
Aboriginal people of the Utopia region have a strong tradition of mark making in a range of media and their work is well represented in museum and art gallery collections in Australia and overseas. These works, collected in the 1990s, are seminal works representing the early transference of ceremonial design from traditional forms and methods of painting to portable two dimensional surfaces for outside audiences. They are historically significant examples of the use of introduced tools and materials such as acrylic paint on canvas and papier mache and wire. The papier mache figures were an experimental form, of which few examples now exist.
This work accords with the NMA's 3.2 Core collecting area no.2: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories especially in relation to the following Focus themes:
(i) Diversity and difference: This theme documents the practices and traditions of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in regional communities across Australia. There is currently a gap in the representation of any Indigenous communities from the eastern side of the central desert, where it is predominantly women who produce objects of tangible cultural heritage. The museum's collection is heavily biased towards the work of male artists of the 1970s and 1980s in the western desert, and works from the central/west Ernabella. This work serves to provide a more balanced view of works done in the 1990s by mainly women from the eastern desert.
(ii) Attachment to Country: This theme includes the way people have retained connection and spiritual attachment to Country despite changes such as pastoralism and missions. The revival of cultural practices in the Utopia region is reflected in the objects that comprise this donation. This production of paintings and sculptures for an outside audience started as a consequence of Government re-skilling programs in the 1970s which followed the equal pay legislation. Aboriginal people working on pastoral properties lost their jobs after decades in the industry and resettled in new communities on their homelands such as the region now known as Utopia.
(iii) Family and social networks: This theme represents the place of family and social networks in the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The Museum is particularly interested in the experiences of women and children. This work is a part of a group of works by people who demonstrate a complex system of relationships within Utopia. The particular markings used this work is culturally derived and are distinctive to the individual artist's skin and language group.
(iv) Social and Cultural Renewal: This theme examines the revival of social and cultural practices and traditions. It includes the emergence of art and new media movements in the twentieth century. This work reflects a diverse range of revival practices in introduced media, new expressions for ancient practices and the re-configuration of social networks based on the creation of a new social order of cultural practitioner and economic provider. Previously only ceremonial leaders existed, not artists as understood in the Western sense.
The Mount Stromlo Observatory Collection consists of one molten telescope mirror; one molten optical glass (flint); one burnt auto collimator from late 1950s (above); one yellow pyrex mirror blank; one teacup with molten aluminium roof attached (above).
In early January, fires were started by lightening in Namagi National Park in the ACT. Efforts to contain the fires were unsuccessful and several fires combined on 18 January and swept into western Canberra over Mount Stromlo. In the course of that day, four lives were lost and almost five hundred homes destroyed. For the MSO the fires were devastating. All five of the Observatory's telescopes were lost as well as the 1924 heritage building, accommodating the administration staff. Only the Visitor Centre, and the Wooley and Duffield buildings (housing the academic staff and computing resources) were spared. The loss of the observatory was not only a loss to Australia's scientific community, but to the international scientific community also.
The Canning Stock Route collection is comprised of 125 works and includes paintings, drawings, baskets, boomerangs, coolamons, headdresses, carved figures and shields.
The Canning Stock Route is a no-longer-used cattle droving route that traverses the Great Sandy and Gibson Deserts of central Western Australia. Comprised of 48 wells along an 1800 kilometres stretch of track, the route links Wiluna in the south with Sturt Creek in the north and traverses the traditional lands of nine Aboriginal language groups. The route was founded in 1905 when Alfred Canning was commissioned to investigate a route suitable for the droving of 500 head of cattle, with water sources spaced at intervals of no more than one day's walk apart. Although Canning's map records observations of the land and water resources, it makes no mention of Indigenous places and their associated meanings which the route traversed. This collection, composed of 'painting stories', sculptural works and oral histories, re-dresses Canning's omission and records the impact of the stock route on Indigenous lives and country. A six week journey with traditional owners held in July and August of 2007 inspired the artworks, many of which were produced during the journey, and provided an opportunity for more than 70 senior and emerging artists to reconnect with traditional lands..
The Springfield Collection comprises about 1550 artefacts from Springfield station, south of Goulburn. It includes colonial era costume, a bushranger medal, surveying instruments, a late-19th century landau, firearms and edged weapons, wool samples and Joseph Foveaux's pocket watch and bible. The objects are complemented by over 400 photographs. This diverse collection reflects the growth and economic success of the property, responses to changes in the wool market and the daily lives of the people who have lived on Springfield.
Springfield has grown from a 518-hectare land grant given to William Pitt Faithfull in 1828 to the current 3183 hectares with ownership remaining in the one family. William Pitt Faithfull established the Springfield Merino Stud in 1838 with ten rams selected from the Macarthur Camden Park stud. The stud evolved slowly over the years until the early 1950s when, under the management of Jim Maple-Brown, a scientific approach to wool-growing was adopted and the stud's name was changed to Fonthill to reflect this.