page loading
Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Collection Explorer



  • Bill Reid - John Cawte collection(47)

    Emu egg carved with images of a face, basket, boomerangs and shield motifs by Bill Reid
    Emu egg carved with image of Betty Watts by Bill Reid
    Emu egg carved with image of a man's face and animals by Bill Reid
    Emu egg carved with image of a horse by Bill Reid

    The Bill Reid - John Cawte Collection comprises a series of emu eggs carved by William 'Bill' Reid (1917 -1993), a renowned Gamilaraay artist from northern-central NSW. The collection contains sixteen emu eggs - fourteen carved, one partly carved and one uncarved. They feature representations of Truganinni, Mum Shirl, the Ella brothers, Bill Reid, Albert Namatjiria and Tony Mundine, Alva Reid - Bill Reid's daughter, as well as John Cawte and Betty Watts (John Cawte's wife).
    The collection also includes Reid's innovative system for internally illuminating each carved egg, consisting of a light stand on a circular cork board with a plastic batten holder and cord, sixteen plastic batten holders, sixteen switch cases, sixteen "push button or bell press" mechanisms, a tungsten 15 watt clear light bulb, seventeen plastic "Café HAG" coffee jar lids.

    The collection is significant as constituting a rare series of representations of prominent Indigenous people and other figures undertaken by a renowned Aboriginal artist. As a set of carved emu eggs it is also an important contribution to the National Museum's collection of 20th century Indigenous craft objects. The collection compliments an existing NHC collection of six carved eggs depicting prominent Indigenous figures also carved by Reid.

  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7553)

    Boondara, showing horse teams pulling wagons loaded with wool bales
    Large building in Sydney (Sydney Hospital)
    Sydney, New South Wales
    The Museum, Sydney, N.S.W (Australian Museum)
  • Dick Roughsey Rainbow Serpent collection(16)

    Goorialla leaves Narabyllgan and travels north - Rainbow serpent story painting by Dick Roughsey
    The Wangoo cut Goorialla open and the Bil-bil brothers emerged as Rainbow lorikeets - Rainbow serpent story painting by Dick Roughsey
    Goorilla showing the men how to dance properly - Rainbow serpent story painting by Dick Roughsey
    Goorialla flees towards the only great mountain, Borabunaru - Rainbow serpent story painting by Dick Roughsey

    The Dick Roughsey Rainbow Serpent collection consists of 16 works produced for the children's book 'The Rainbow Serpent' (1975) by Lardil artist Dick Roughsey (Goobalathaldin).

    The rainbow serpent is an important ancestral being in Indigenous communities and emerged in ancestral stories and related manifestations for the first time some 3,000 to 6,000 years ago. 'The Rainbow Serpent' won a Children's Picture Book of the Year Award in 1976 and was one of seven successful children's books produced by Dick Roughsey in collaboration with his colleague and friend Percy Tresize.

  • National Symbols Poster collection no. 2(4)

    Colour poster with the caption Buy Australian Sultanas, issued by the Empire Marketing Board
    Colour poster with the caption Buy New Zealand honey, issued by the Empire Marketing Board
    Colour poster with the caption Buy home-grown canned fruits, issued by the Empire Marketing Board
    Colour poster with the caption Irrigating currant vines,  Australia

    This collection consists of three colour lithographic posters designed by Frederick C. Herrick and one colour poster designed by Archibald Bertram Webb for the Empire Marketing Board. The EMB was established in 1926 by the British Government to promote the products of the British Empire within the United Kingdom. It is now perhaps best known for its publication of some 800 different poster and postcard designs, mainly for viewing by the British public through display on public hoardings and buildings, and in shop windows and some schools. The three posters by Herrick in the NMA collections feature a lion, a kangaroo with joey and a kiwi (symbolising Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand respectively) and slogans exhorting the public to 'BUY HOME-GROWN CANNED FRUITS' ('British' lion poster); 'BUY AUSTRALIAN SULTANAS' (kangaroo poster); and 'BUY NEW ZEALAND HONEY' (kiwi poster). The Webb poster is a print of a colour woodcut of a worker tending an irrigated crop, captioned 'Irrigating current vines, Australia'.

    These posters are highly significant historical artefacts, recording not only commercial art trends and the emergence of modern mass media, but the use of that media in a sophisticated peacetime government propaganda campaign. They are early examples of 'brand Australia' and the definition of the nation as a market. Designed by a English artist and and English immigrant to Australia, they also contribute to the iconography of the kangaroo and illustrate other understandings of Australia and its inhabitants by those living beyond its shores.

  • Neil Jensen collection(72)

    Logbook certificate from Light Plane Services listing work carried out for C of A renewal, 6 May 1981
    Preliminary Inspection Report from Light Plane Services, 30 April 1981-6 May 1981
    Letter to Light Plane Services from the C.A.A.
    Original copy of Aeronautical Parts Certificate from Hants & Sussex Aviation Ltd

    The Neil Jensen collection consists of a Percival Gull Six aircraft, G-AERD, and associated archive. Made by the Percival Aircraft Company at Gravesend in Kent, England, in 1936, this aircraft was first purchased by Ariane Dufaux of Switzerland and registered as HB-OFU. After passing through several owners in Switzerland, the aircraft was sold to a collector and restored by Cliff Lovell in England where it was featured on the air show circuit and registered as G-AERD. Neil Jensen purchased G-AERD in 1983, and while it was based in Redhill, Surrey it was awarded the Percival Trophy by the Cotswold Aircraft Restoration Group.

    Born in Albury, New South Wales, in 1897, Edgar Wikner Percival served in Europe and Egypt with the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War. Returning to Australia after the war, Percival operated a commercial aviation business while pursuing opportunities to design and manufacture new types of aircraft. In 1929, he travelled to England to work as a test pilot for the Bristol Aircraft Company, and in 1930 designed and manufactured the first low-wing cantilever monoplanes in the British Commonwealth. Percival formed the Percival Aircraft Company in 1932 and named the new aircraft series 'Gull'. Characterised by their graceful lines, the Gulls had light wooden frames covered with doped (lacquered) fabric and powerful four or six cylinder engines. PercivalÂ?s Gulls quickly established a reputation for high performance, with Percival designing racing versions named 'Mew Gulls', which won acclaim in the Kings Cup Air Race.

  • Eseli collection(3)

    Wooden crocodile carving headdress with grass covered plastic headpiece
    Dance ornament model aeroplane

    Dance ornament model aeroplane

    The wooden crocodile carving by Mr Eseli from Kubin Village represents totemic significance for Torres Strait Islander culture. Totemic practice is an important part of Islander life as it sets the path for managing the environment and ecology sustainably. Following totemic practice allows for enough food to be hunted and consumed enabling the natural habitat to rejuvenate and replenish sufficiently.

    The war fighter planes represent the influence of World War 2 on the Torres Strait Islands. Islanders incorporated the airplanes into their dance through making dance ornaments and bomber head-dresses.

  • Nettie McColive collection(189)

    Super Primary Department Adelaide Correspondence-School Certificate for Applied art

    Needlework has been an important creative outlet for women throughout Australian history. This work has often been denigrated due to the (gendered) divide between high and low culture which regards domestic work as trivial, feminine and unworthy of the title "Art". A reassessment of history informed by womens' history and feminism has led to domestic needlework being acknowledged as more than simply functional labour. The social role of this type of work is now better appreciated making it a vital aspect of domestic material culture.

    This collection consists of objects relating to the life of Minetta (Nettie) McColive (nee Huppatz). Mrs McColive's quilts form the centre piece of the collection. Three of these were made in the 1930's, the Farm Life Quilt, Wildflowers Quilt and the International Quilt. Also featured in the collection are certificates, photographs and d'oyleys. This collection helps to document issues such as women in rural Australia, quilting and needlework, education in the outback, community or commemorative quilting, shows and competitions.

    Mrs McColive's work has been the subject of considerable interest both in South Australia as well as in the general quilting community. Her work is featured in two books, Jennifer Isaac's The Gentle Arts and Margaret Rolfe's Patchwork Quilts in Australia. Her work has also featured in exhibitions such as the Quilt Australia '88 exhibition as well as an exhibition held in Prospect showcasing the work of local artists.

  • Timothy Millett collection(314)

    Convict love token from John Giddens
    Convict love token from E. Haddon
    Convict love token from Paul Stieney, 1836
    Convict love token from Robert Salmon, 1841

    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.