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National Museum of Australia

Collection Explorer



  • Tony Shibasaki collection(2)

    Carved pearlshell pendant that resembles a dhari headdress with a morning star in the middle
    Carved pearlshell pendant that resembles a dhari headdress with a drum below it

    The 'Tony Shibasaki Collection' of pearlshell carvings from Mr Tony Shibasaki are from Thursday Island in the Torres Strait. The pearlshell carvings illustrates the contemporary expression of Torres Strait Islander culture. It also represents the diversity of the pearlshell industry thoughout the Torres Strait with the boom in the 1920s and decline during the 1960s.

    The Morning Star carving represents the iconic sysmbolism of the Torres Strait Islander Dhari (headdress) unifying the people of the Torres Strait Islands. The Dhari was traditionally worn by men during warfare and today is worn for dancing and ceremony. The Morning Star (or 5-pointed star) represents the five island groups in the Torres Strait. The Dhari carving with drum connected on the bottom shows the diverse style of headdress in the Torres Strait. The drum is symbolic of dance and ceremony and used as a musical instrument. These two works reveal the cultural expression of contemporary forms through the medium of carving.

  • Pastor Kenneth Freeman collection(1)

    Wooden hollow musical drum
  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7553)

    QSL card for VK2DP
    Birchgrove oval, Balmain
    Antartic sports - start of the ski flat race
    The Hello Man Entertains the Children at 2FC
  • John Collinson Close collection(26)

    Handwritten poem titled A
    Handwritten poem titled Crossing the Bar, by Lord Alfred Tennyson
    Registered envelope addressed to J H Collinson Close, Mosman, NSW
    Leather bound brass telescope, used by John Close

    This collection comprises objects belonging to John Henry Collinson Close, a member of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) of 1911-1914, led by Dr Douglas Mawson. It includes a telescope and case; pocket compass; Bryant and May matchbox (used to keep Close's Morse code); diary entries and letters from Close to his wife Alice (three on AAE letterhead); a hand-stitched canvas pouch with a label written by Close in ink, containing two rock samples collected in Antarctica and sent to Alice by supply ship in 1912; a copy of Life Magazine from September 1914; newspaper cuttings of eight articles written by or referencing Close; three typescript letters, including correspondence from Douglas Mawson; handwritten copies of two poems, including one by Tennyson; a newspaper cutting of a Douglas Stewart poem; and a registered envelope addressed to Close.

    The John Collinson Close collection dates from the 'heroic era' of Antarctic exploration, perhaps the last great period of geographical discovery on Earth. It demonstrates key events in a story that led to Australia's claim over 42% of the continent. Linked to this story, and to this collection, are simultaneous ties to the old notions of Empire and the assertion of a new national identity. Close's private letters and journalism reveal the contrast between the personal experiences of a lesser-known expeditioner and a venture, overshadowed by a mythologised leader, now abstracted into the national memory and imagination.

  • Myrtle Wilson collection(87)

    Certificate awarded at the Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of South Australia Royal Show, 1952  for Second Prize for a dark green quilted cushion cover
    Certificate awarded to Mrs V.M. Wilson at the Barmedman P.A. & H.. Association Annual Show, 1959 for first prize for a snow white play apron
    Certificate awarded at the Yarram Agricultural Society 78th Annual Show, 1960 for first prize for a jug cover
    Certificate awarded to V.M. Wilson at the Narromine Show for second prize for a painted table centre
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art (ATSIAA) collection(2104)

    Carved emu egg by Sam Kirby
    Dog Dreaming by George Milpurrurru
    Dancing Ceremony of spear country by Djardie Ashley
    Emu egg carved with the image of a moth

    The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Art collection comprises 2050 artworks and other objects. The artworks - which numerically dominate the collection - were produced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities throughout Australia. The accumulation of these artworks into a single collection has resulted from the choices and selections made during a 38 year period by a variety of staff working for the Council for Aboriginal Affairs (CAA), the Department of Aboriginal Affairs (DAA), the Aboriginal Development Commission (ADC) and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) at the national, regional and local levels.

    The collection spans the years following the 1967 referendum, when dramatic changes in the governance of Aboriginal people took place, up to 2005 when the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission was dissolved. It provides a snapshot of the diversity and changes in Indigenous art and its representation which occurred during the period of its formation. The small number of 'non-art' objects in the collection is also significant in providing insights into the working of the various Commonwealth bodies involved in Indigenous affairs. As well as the significance of many of the individual pieces, the collection is also significant as a whole, as a complex artefact stemming from Australia's history of governance of Australian Indigenous peoples.

  • Bill Elliott's Agua Caliente Racebook (Phar Lap) collection(2)

    Official Program Agua Caliente Jockey Club
    Sepia photograph of Bill Elliott riding Phar Lap

    This collection consists of the Official Program for the Agua Caliente Jockey Club for 20 March 1932, inscribed by Phar Lap's jockey, Bill Elliott. Elliott rode Phar Lap in the famous horse's last race, the Agua Caliente Handicap, just prior to the champion's death in the United States.

    Phar Lap's name is still readily recognised by large numbers of Australians. He is one of Australia's best known sporting heroes. He remains a legend. His racing prowess, reflected in numerous wins in major Australian races in 1929-31 and victory in the 1930 Melbourne Cup, have left him permanently established in Australia's sporting mythology. Phar Lap's staying power, humble bloodlines and consistent wins against heavy handicaps made him a favourite among enormous numbers of Australians battling during the Depression. The horse's death under suspicious circumstances in California, just after the Agua Caliente victory, had a huge impact at the time and served to make Phar Lap's reputation even more powerful and permanent.

  • William and Jeanette Derham Family - Bendigo Pottery collection(417)

    Ceramic Toby jug titled J Arthur
    Salt glazed brown ceramic demijohn [Aqua]
    Ginger Beer Barrel 3 Gallon
    Ceramic vase

    The William and Jeanette Derham family collection is the physical manifestation of Mr Derham's commitment to documenting the work of Bendigo Pottery, its wares and institutional history, as well as the association he and his family had with the business between 1968 and 1983. The collection consists of historic Bendigo Pottery ceramics from the 19th and 20th centuries which illustrate the diversity of wares produced between 1858 and 1971, as well as a comprehensive range of items manufactured during the Derham era. This material is supported by a unique collection of stamps and printing blocks used as part of the manufacturing and advertising processes as well as documentary materials, photographs and ephemera which illustrate working life at Bendigo Pottery.

    Since its establishment in 1858, Bendigo Pottery has played a significant role in the history of Australian ceramics, producing wares ranging from the domestic and decorative, to the utilitarian and industrial. The history of the business illustrates the process of technological transfer in the decorative arts, the adaptation of imported ceramic traditions to local markets and the development of distinctively Australian imagery, styles and pottery products. Bendigo Pottery has provided useful products and employment opportunities to the community for 150 years and on an aesthetic level ensured that the skills of the potter, which so easily could have been lost with the advent of mass production techniques, have been preserved for posterity.