page loading
Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Collection Explorer



  • Ben Chifley collection no. 3(53)

    Speech by Senator N E McKenna on the death of Ben Chifley ,19th June 1951, and a note card
    United Hospital Auxiliaries of N.S.W.
    Inventory of furniture and effects relating to Ben Chifley
    Quota Club Bathurst

    The objects in the Ben Chifley Collection refer to the lives of Ben and Elizabeth Chifley, primarily from the Chifleys' days as Prime Minister and Prime Minister's wife, but stretching beyond Ben's death in 1951 until Elizabeth's death in 1962. Significant objects include a letter of condolence to Elizabeth Chifley from Elsie Curtin (former PM John Curtin's wife) on the death of Ben Chifley (above), photos of Chifley as a young boy and a bible on which Chifley was sworn in as minister in the short-lived Scullin government of 1931.

    Joseph Benedict Chifley was Australia's sixteenth Prime Minister, leading the Australian government between 1945 and 1949. This period was one of particular importance in Australian history, being the time during which many of the contours of post-War Australian social and economic development were established. Chifley also articulated the values of the reforming Labor Party in his "Light on the Hill" speech of 1949. However, the election of December that year saw the beginning of a drastic re-alignment of political allegiances in voting behaviour, leading to over twenty years of conservative dominance in Australian politics. An understanding of Ben Chifley, in both his private and public guises, illustrates much about this crucial era in post-War Australian history.

  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7553)

    Sydney Harbour, showing Circular Quay
    Eileen Alannah
    Circular Quay, from the Harbour, Sydney
    Barron Falls. Cairns District. Q,1905
  • Springfield - Faithfull Family collection(3501)

    Presented by The Australian Red Cross Council in recogntion of Twenty Years' Loyal Service
    Sir Ernest Cable's property, Devo
    York Minster

    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.

  • Ron and Ella Christopher collection(2)

    Mosquito net wedding dress
    Fox skin rug

    The fox skin rug measures approximately 150 x 150 cm and is made from 18 skins, 14 of which still have the tails attached and arranged around three sides. Many of the skins have been trimmed or patched to a regular shape. They were tanned by a professional tannery and hand-stitched together with cotton thread. The wedding dress is made from cotton mosquito netting which has horizontal rows of lace stitched over the whole fabric before the dress was made. The dress has three-quarter sleeves gathered at the shoulder and a side opening with hook-and-eye fastenings. The back is slightly longer than the front forming a train. It is lined with parachute silk. The dress is soiled but in good condition.

    During and immediately after the Second World War shortages and rationing required households to be resourceful and economic with their use of materials. This mosquito net wedding dress and fox skin rug demonstrate the thrift and ingenuity of Australians in hard times. Despite the fox's detrimental effect on the natural environment, many hunters and furriers benefited from the its presence in the Australian landscape. Foxeswere particularly appreciated by amateur shooters and farmers who used the skins for domestic, home-made rugs and coats when articles made from woven cloth were scarce. The wedding dress is indicative to a young bride's determination to have something special to wear on her wedding day as well as resourcefulness in using alternative and recycled materials to fulfill the desire for the obligatory white dress.

  • Mary Willsallen collection(77)

    Mary Willsallen driving a sulky
    Framed photograph of pony, Lowlynn Silver King
    Pedigree records
    Mary Willsallen at Government House, Sydney on being awarded her Order of Australia
  • Alexander Mussen collection(33)

    Letter from Alexander Mussen to William Mussen, August 1855
    Letter from Joseph Sharpe to William Mussen, March 1867
    Letter from Alexander Mussen to William Mussen, September 1863
    Letter from Alexander Mussen to Thomas Mussen, February 1856

    The Alexander Mussen Collection consists of 3 sketches, one ambrotype portrait, newspaper clippings, 13 letters and a death certificate relating to Alexander Mussen, his time on the NSW goldfields and his death, in 1864, at the hand of bushrangers. Alexander Mussen was a young Canadian, the son of a well known merchant in Montreal. It seems he fell into some disrepute and debt in Canada and travelled to the NSW goldfields to both try his luck and redeem the family name.

    The gold rush in Australia had a major impact on society, culture, the environment and politics. The population increased dramatically, society became more diversified, colonial governments had to respond to the changes and the rest of the world became increasingly aware of Australia's wealth. The Mussen collection provides a personal and intimate insight into the practical workings of some New South Wales diggings, society more generally, law and order on the goldfields and the continuing connection between those who came to Australia and family left behind.

  • Dorothy Bennett collection(167)

    Bark painting 'Female Namurrordo, Malicious Spirit of the Stone Country' by Charlie Najombolmi, Balawurru
    Wooden decorated carving, 'Jabiru', from Melville or Bathurst Island
    Flying Foxes and Baby Brolga Hut painting.
  • Timothy Millett collection(314)

    Convict love token from Charles Waldron, 1844
    Convict love token from Robert Salmon, 1841
    Convict love token from E.H. Elliot
    Convict love token from Peter Martin, 1836

    The Timothy Millett collection comprises 307 convict love tokens dating from 1762 to 1856, and seven contemporary documents relating to the criminal justice system including: recommendations to commute the death sentences of Hester Sampson and Thomas Hayes to life transportation; a calendar of prisoners awaiting trial in the goals of Durham, Newcastle and Northumberland; a request to the Middlesex assizes for rewards to be paid; a printed copy of George Skene's last speech prior to execution; a printed broadside listing prisoners in Dorchester jail awaiting transportation; and a 60 page handwritten account of the life of Thomas Jones, who was transported twice and finally hanged at Winchester Prison in 1856.

    Convict love tokens, typically made from smoothed-down coins and engraved or stippled with a message, derive from traditional sailors' farewells. The production of these 'leaden hearts' rose as criminal indictments increased in Britain, with the majority produced during the 1820s and 1830s. As mementos made by or for convicts facing transportation (or death) to leave behind for their loved ones, the tokens provide a poignant, personal insight into the transportation system.