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National Museum of Australia

Collection Explorer



  • Ken Thaiday collection no. 3(2)

    Triple Beizam Headdress with Reef Fish, by Ken Thaiday Senior
    Beizam triple hammershark headdress sculpture or dance mask, by Ken Thaiday Senior

    The Ken Thaiday collection No. 3 consists of two hammerhead shark (Beizam) headdresses made by the Torres Strait Islander artist, Ken Thaiday Senior. Designed to be worn on a dancer's head, each headdress comprises several moveable (articulated) parts, which can be manipulated by the wearer pulling a series of strings.

    The beizam headdress is specific to the mythologies and religious traditions of Thaiday's clan and island group. Born on Darnley Island in 1950, Thaiday was taught art and dance from a young age. Prior to becoming a full-time artist, he worked as a dancer, and in 1987 he began constructing dance artefacts for his Cairns-based Torres Strait Islander dance troupe. Employing non-traditional materials and construction styles, his works evolved over time into elaborately articulated headdresses known as 'dance machines'. Thaiday's shark (beizam) dance machines epitomize his practice of combining traditional and contemporary forms.

  • Canning Stock Route collection(124)

    'Martilirri, Kalpaa and Kartaru' by Ngamaru Bidu, 2008
    Fibre basket by Rosie Williams, 2008
    'Mangarri' by Elizabeth Nyumi, 2007
    'JuntuJuntu: Minyipuru and Kurrkurr' by Nancy Chapman, 2007

    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..

  • Timothy Millett collection(314)

    Convict love token from J.E.
    Convict love token from Charles Bodycoat, 1840
    Convict love token from T.B.
    Convict love token from David Freeman, 1818

    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.

  • Charles Hart collection(489)

    Hair and fibre string belt from Melville or Bathurst Island
    Mourning disc
  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7553)

    Ostrich farm, possibly in Mundooran
    Postcard featuring a sepia photographic print showing soldiers on parade standing to attention in front of buildings
    Building with a tall clock tower, with train carriages on a track in front of it
  • Springfield - Faithfull Family collection(3501)

    Brass 360 degree protractor
    Piece of fabric depicting three embroidery motifs
    Pair of thin metal wire spectacles
    Nineteeth Sunday After Trinity

    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.

  • Elizabeth Kay collection no. 2(19)

    Dance card from the Eighth Annual Ball of the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau, 1934
    An invitation to a garden party at Government House Canberra, 15 October 1936
    Supper card for the 1934 State Ball at Old Parliament House
    Dance card from the Seventh Annual Ball of the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau in 1933

    The Elizabeth Kay Collection consists primarily of early Canberra tourist ephemera, dance cards and invitations for Canberra events during the 1930s, and a variety of other items dating from the 1920s and 1930s related to aviation, Boy Scouts, Commonwealth Railways and anthropological research. The material relates to Kay, her family and their interests.

    Mrs Kay (nee Moss) moved to Canberra in 1926, after completing her education in Melbourne, joining her father Mr HP Moss who had been working in the position of Chief Electrical Engineer in Canberra since 1912. The objects relating to aviation, the Commonwealth Railways and anthropological research came into Mrs Kay's possession through her father, who collected Aboriginal artefacts from a number of sites in the Canberra area. A program from the 1934 Australian Scout Jamboree Sunday service was given to Kay's brother, John Maxwell Moss, who attended the event. Kay's aunt, Hilda Maxwell (later Lyall) and eldest brother, James Maxwell Moss, are pirctured among the crowd watching Harry Hawker flying over Caulfield Racecourse in 1914. The invitations and dance cards for balls held at Old Parliament House and at the Forestry Commission during 1933, 1934 and 1936, relate directly to Mrs Kay and her husband, Cecil Kay, dating from before their marriage with 'Miss Elizabeth Moss' favoured for numerous dances on Mr Kay's dance cards. The Canberra tourist ephemera belonged to Cecil Kay and were likely purchased in 1932. The open letter written to Prince Edward of Wales on his Royal Tour in 1920 expressing the importance of patriotism towards the British Empire was given to Mrs Kay at her primary school in Melbourne.

  • Dr Herbert Basedow collection(424)

    Glass plate negative - Men catching a horse, Innamincka station, South Australia, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1919
    Glass plate negative - Sinkhole in limestone rock, Nullarbor Plain, South Australia, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1920
    Glass plate negative - Frank Feast, wearing a World War I uniform, walking beside the expedition buggy, central Australia, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1920
    Glass plate negative - Whistle and his wife Nellie, between Derby and Kimberley Downs station, Western Australia, photographed by Herbert Basedow, 1916