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National Museum of Australia

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Collection Explorer



  • Ben Chifley collection no.3(3)

    Bathurst City Croquet Club
    New South Wales Ambulance Transport Service Bathurst District
    Bathurst District R.S.L. Band

    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.

  • Forest Hill Residential Kindergarten collection(1)

    Wall hanging of a scene from Little Red Riding Hood, made by Ukrainian Displaced Person Olga Basylevich, in Germany in 1946
  • John Collinson Close collection(26)

    Letter acknowledging gifts, addressed to Mrs Alice Close, 1951
    Five loose pages of diary with entries by John Close, 1912
    Three page folded letter from John Close to Alice Close, Antarctica 1911
    Two page letter from John Close to Alice Close, 1911

    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.

  • Springfield - Faithfull Family collection(3501)

    Ladies black patent[?] leather left shoe, with black and red beading on the front and straps
    Plate No. 16 from Carter's Floral Illustrations
    Goodbye to Caux
    Savernake Forest, Grand Avenue

    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.

  • Carmelo Mirabelli collection no. 1(20)

    Porcelain caricature wine bottle
    Federated Storeman and Packers Union of Australia - Queensland Branch booklet
    Kerosene fueled stove with a single burner
    Sugar cane cutting knife

    The Carmelo Mirabelli collection consists of 16 items relating to Mr Mirabelli's six years of itinerant work after migrating from Sicily to Australia in 1951. He travelled between Ingham, Qld; Shepparton and Mildura, Vic. following the seasonal harvests of sugar cane in Queensland and stone fruit and grapes in Victoria in order to find a 'home' in Australia. The collection includes his cane-cutting knife, fruit-picking apron, grape picking basket, camera, bicycle, kerosene stove and Remitter's Record Card which he used to send money to his mother in war-ravaged Sicily.

    The Mirabelli collection reflects aspects of post-WWII Italian migration. It is representative of itinerant or seasonal workers lives in the post war period and how these flows of people connected Queensland to Victoria. The fact that Mr Mirabelli encouraged other cane cutters to pick fruit in Shepparton supports this. The collection adds to the understanding of post war agricultural history, particularly that of fruit picking and cane cutting which are not represented in the NHC. The Mirabelli collection also illustrates how phases of mobility and consolidation were part of the Italian male migrant experience in the post war era.

  • Elizabeth Kay collection no. 2(19)

    Dance card from the State Ball at Old Parliament House in 1937
    An invitation to a garden party at Government House Canberra, 15 October 1936
    Dance card from the Eighth Annual Ball of the Commonwealth Forestry Bureau, 1934
    Photograph of Harry Hawker and his Sopwith aircraft at Caulfield Racecourse 1914

    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.

  • Department of Defence collection(118)

    Callier Marine Chronometer No 803 in a wooden case
    A Johannsen & Co Two Day Marine Chronometer No 8094, with accessories in a wooden case, used in HMAS Hobart
    Mercer Marine Chronometer No 13290 in a wooden case
    Loseby Two Day Marine Chronometer No 109, with accessories in a wooden case
  • Matthew Flinders collection(4)

    Stream anchor from Matthew Flinders' ship the 'Investigator'
    Matthew Flinders' 'A Voyage to Terra Australis' (1814), Volume 1
    Matthew Flinders' 'A Voyage to Terra Australis' (1814) , Volume 2
    Terra Australis or Australia, the Parts Explored Bewteen 1798 and 1803 by Matthew Flinders

    The Matthew Flinders collection comprises a wrought iron, fisherman's style stream anchor from Matthew Flinders' ship, the "Investigator". The anchor has a long straight shank, which has the remains of a ring at one end, and two curved arms at the other end. The surface of the anchor is corroded.

    On 18 July 1801, Matthew Flinders, commander of H.M.S. Investigator, set sail to explore and to chart the Australian coastline. Returning via Timor down the West Australian coast, in a badly leaking vessel, and with a number of his crew suffering from dysentery and fever, Flinders stopped at Middle Island in the Recherche Archipelago on 17 May 1803, for the purposes of procuring geese, seal oil and salt for his ailing crew. According to research by Mr Robert Sexton, maritime historian of Adelaide, Flinders found, on his departure four days later, that a fresh breeze was driving the Investigator towards rocks before the sails had been loosened. Using the shipÃ?Â?s spare anchors to hold the ship off the rocks, Flinders cut the anchor cables as the ship departed, losing his bower anchor and stream anchor as a result. Instead of recovering the anchors, as was usual practice, Flinders left them to be picked up at a later date. In 1972, Doug Seton from the South Australian Museum organized an expedition with fellow members of the Underwater Explorers Club of South Australia to find and raise the two anchors, which were located in Goose Island Bay on 14th January 1973 by members of the Underwater Explorers Club of SA. This collection highlights one of the important voyages of discovery and the naming of Australia by Matthew Flinders. Flinders circumnavigated Australia and confirmed its island status after many years of conjecture and uncertainty.