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National Museum of Australia

Collection Explorer



  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7551)

    Horse teams pulling wagons loaded with wool bales
    Tarleton's Private Hotel. Bondi N.S.W
    Templetonia retusa
  • Papuan Official collection(1043)

    Carved and mounted coconut
    Canoe paddle
    Cane cuirass
    Carved human figure
  • Timothy Millett collection(313)

    Convict love token from Robert Bridges, 1843
    Convict love token from W. Mollet., 1843
    Convict love token from David Freeman, 1818
    Convict love token from H. Honey, 1834

    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.

  • Beth Dean Carell collection no. 2(78)

    Sketch of Beth Dean in a seated dance pose wearing an orange-brown costume with white swirls, [5 min Sketch by Bill Constable 1950]
    Costume design in gouache and pencil on paper with card backing, showing an Aboriginal woman wearing a feathered pubic apron and wristbands
    Kangaroo Man costume
    Costume design in gouache and pencil on paper with card backing, showing an Aboriginal man posed wearing a feathered headdress

    The Beth Dean-Carrell archive and collections 1, 2 and 3 comprise a vast array of costumes, photographs, tapes, videos, documents and letters relating to the development, choreography and staging of a number of ballets dealing with Aboriginal myths and legends, including Corroboree, Kurdaitcha and The First Boomerang. As well, the collections contain a large number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Pacific Islander (e.g. Cook Islands and New Zealand) and Papua New Guinean cultural objects.

    An early concern for, and appreciation of Aboriginal culture, led dancer, choreographer and writer, Beth Dean, and her husband singer, writer and film maker, Victor Carell, to spend several months researching dance in Aboriginal societies in the Northern Territory in 1953, and later, in the Pacific Islands and Papua New Guinea. Their research was assisted by anthropologists such as A. P. Elkin, T.G.H. Strehlow and C. P. Mountford and by traditional elders. Although based on cultural values and customary costume, Dean's ballet performances were interpretations, rather than literal representations, of Aboriginal ceremonial dances. Dean's was the second stage version of Corroboree in 1954, which was set to composer John Antill's musical score, Corroboree, which he completed in 1946. Antill was inspired to incorporate Aboriginal rhythm and melody into symphonic music following meetings with Aboriginal communities at La Perouse in Sydney. Both Dean's and Antill's productions reflected a post- World War II national trend by Australian composers and choreographers towards an intentional Australian cultural identity or national style which incorporated either actual or impressionistic interpretations of Aboriginal music, dance and culture. It is ironic, nonetheless, that Aboriginal people at that time were not considered to be Australian citizens, lacked many basic human rights, and were largely absent, not only from the lives of most urban white Australians, but from the concert performances through which only selective versions of their culture were portrayed. However, while these performances would be considered unacceptable today, Beth Dean's intention was not to further marginalize Aboriginal people but to sensitively and considerately convey to Australian audiences "the ethics, wisdomÃ?Â?discipline [and] harmony of Aboriginal customs and culture.

  • Springfield Merino Stud collection(166)

    Card awarded at the Murrumbidgee Annual Show, 1887, First Prize
    Second Prize card awarded at the Murrumbidgee Annual Show, Wagga Wagga, 1889
  • Springfield - Faithfull Family collection(3501)

    Handwritten letter to Mrs Maple-Brown
    Piece of Springfield Merino note paper

    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.

  • Michael Kinsela, Chief of Cudgelbong Breastplate collection(1)

    Michael Kinsela, Chief of Cudgelbong

    This collection comprises a brass breastplate presented around 1840 to Michael Kinsela of Cudgelbong, a Kamberri man. It was given to (or collected by) pastoralist George Sibley, who owned the original 'Red Hill' property at Gundaroo, New South Wales, in the 1850s and whose descendants still live in the region today. Since 'Cudgelbong' is probably a variation of 'cudgegong', an Aboriginal word meaning 'red hill', it is highly likely that the land around Gundaroo was Michael Kinsela's country.

    By the 1830s it was common practice to present Aboriginal people perceived as local leaders with breastplates in an attempt to aid peaceable settlement. Breastplates were also presented as a reward for labour or particular acts of heroism. It is possible Michael Kinsela worked as a tracker for the police and took his non-indigenous name from Patrick Kinsela, who was appointed to the position of Chief Constable of Queanbeyan in February 1838. Some of the descendants of Patrick Kinsela have, like the Sibleys, remained in the region. Thus Michael Kinsela's breastplate is not only tangible evidence of a named individual - a rare record for an Aboriginal person in colonial Australian history - but is unusual for having a relatively strong provenance to two families and locations with an ongoing local history.

  • Warakurna History Paintings collection(33)

    Tjanpi by Polly Pawuya Jackson
    Giles Weather Station by Dorcas Tinnimay Bennett
    Warburton Mission: Leaving Time by Judith Yinyika Chambers
    Miners by Jean Burke

    This collection consists of thirty-three paintings produced by Warakurna Artists for a collaborative commercial exhibition with the Outstation Gallery in Darwin. The exhibition, 'History Paintings - All the Stories got into our minds and eyes', opened in May 2011.

    The collection is significant as a broad and comprehensive body of work that presents a series of (related) Aboriginal perspectives on events in Australian history, some of which fundamentally challenge other accounts in the historical record. The collection documents the historical perspective of Ngaanyatjarra people who currently reside in the community of Warakurna. Contextualised by more customary mythic narratives, most of the works address historical events and provide an insight into the Aboriginal experience of contact on the colonial frontier. Taken together, from the Seven Sisters Dreaming to football carnivals in Warakurna today, the collection encompasses 100 years (and more) of history in the Ngaanyatjarra lands.