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National Museum of Australia

Collection Explorer



  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7551)

    Blue wren and kookaburra
    The batchelor's hut
    A Friend of a Friend of Mine!
    The Famous Kennedy Family of Entertainers
  • Daisy Bates and Herbert Browne collection(12)

    Symmetrical red-brown boomerang
    Symmetrical yellow-brown boomerang
    Spearthrower with carvings and fibre on hand grip
    Symmetrical brown boomerang

    The Daisy Bates - Herbert Browne collection consists of twelve Indigenous objects which belonged to Herbert Browne. Browne acquired a collection of objects from Daisy Bates while she was living at Ooldea in the 1920s and 1930s. The collection is comprised of eight boomerangs, two spearthrowers, a shield with a painted and incised design and an adze with a stone flake mounted in resin. Four of the boomerangs are small and light, typical of so-called 'returning' boomerangs, the other four are larger and heavier, typical of the hunting and fighting boomerangs of inland regions. One of the spearthrowers is plain, the other incised and has pigment staining consistent with use as a palette.

    Daisy Bates and her relationship with Aboriginal people in Western Australia and at Ooldea are an important part of Australia's history of settler-Indigenous relations during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. These objects are significant for their link to the story of Bates and her sojourn in Ooldea. Their links to Herbert Browne also make them significant for understanding the history of the theatre in Australia during the early twentieth century, and the way in which theatre moved around the country. These objects are also significant for demonstrating the economics of material culture and artefact manufacture at Ooldea and the early development of Aboriginal arts and tourism industries in Australia.

  • Anne Fairbairn collection no. 1(3)

    Barrister's wig tin used by Sir George Houstoun Reid
    Barrister's wig tin stand used by Sir George Houstoun Reid

    Barrister's grey horsehair wig worn by Sir George Houstoun Reid

  • Minh Nguyen collection(1)

    Bamboo hybrid stringed musical instrument called a 'dan tre', an original creation by Vietnamese refugee Minh Tam Nguyen
  • Springfield - Faithfull Family collection(3501)

    Mourning envelope addressed to W. P. Faithfull in Augustus Lucian Faithfull's handwriting
    Geoffrey Faithfull  1st World War
    Large bed of daffodils in bloom with a young girl kneeling beside them wearing a pinafore and a large hat
    The Old Mill 1938 Springfield

    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.

  • Tran Thi Nga collection(12)

    Ship's wheel from the fishing vessel Hong Hai
    Motor Fishing Vessel Hong Hai, which transported 38 Vietnamese refugees to Australia in 1978

    Four Pages from Signals Autumn.

    Five sheets of plans of the Hong Hai held in cylinder.

    The Tran Thi Nga collection includes the fishing vessel 'Hong Hai', a pair of binoculars, the steering wheel, a large metal water container and an aluminium chair used by the captain. There is also a collection of archival documents that relate to the arrival of the vessel in 1978 and its restoration in 1988. The wooden fishing boat 'Hong Hai' was made by Truong Van Soi and his family in Kien Giang, Vietnam in 1969 to use for commercial trawling. In 1978 Mr Truong was informed that his property would be confiscated by the government on his return from his next fishing voyage. As the boat was stocked and prepared he elected not to return and instead embarked on a 51-day, 6000 kilometre trip to Darwin via Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia with 37 crew, friends and family, 12 of whom were less than 15 years of age.

    The twentieth century saw rapid rises in immigration with notable numbers of refugees after conflicts around the world. Many Vietnamese people fled their homes after the fall of Saigon to North Vietnam in 1975. By 1982 about 54,000 Vietnamese refugees had made their homes in Australia, of which approximately 2000 arrived by boat. The arrivals prompted debate in Australia about immigration, refugees and the now ubiquitous term 'boat people'. The 'Hong Hai' is one of the most significant objects in the National Historical Collection representing the experiences of refugees in Australia.

  • Nettie McColive collection(189)


    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.

  • Bob Brown collection no. 1(161)

    Note with jumper depicting the wild rivers logo by the Tasmanian Wilderness Society.
    Protests during the campaign to save the Franklin River.
    Rally For The Rivers

    This collection of approximately 3000 items consists of ephemera, documents and personal artefacts relates to the life and work of Senator (Bob) Robert James Brown, one of Australia's most prominent conservationists and environmental activists. The collection is particularly strong in relation to ephemera from the 'Save the Franklin' campaign of the late 1970s and early 1980s, but also includes some pro-dam ephemera that shows the opposition's point of view. Material from the earlier 'Save Lake Pedder' campaign is also well represented.

    Dr Bob Brown, a medical doctor, rose to prominence in the late 1970s after taking on the directorship of the Tasmanian Wilderness Society (TWS) and becoming one of Australia's most outspoken and high profile opponents of the Tasmanian Hydro Electric Commission's plans to flood the Gordon and Franklin Rivers in Tasmania's largely untamed southwest. Building on the impetus of earlier campaigns against the flooding of Lake Pedder, the TWS was spectacularly successful in galvanising national public opinion against the Gordon and Franklin dam proposal. This reached its zenith with the 'No Dams' campaign that commenced in 1981 and culminated in the July 1983 decision by the High Court of Australia against the construction of the dam. This decision also had broader political and constitutional ramifications because it was seen by some as an undermining of state rights, while others saw it as a milestone in national conservation awareness that underscored the power of environmental issues in national politics.

    As a result of his very public efforts to preserve Australia's natural heritage Dr Bob Brown was made Australian of the Year in 1983, and received the UNEP Global 500 Award 1987, and the Goldman Environmental Prize USA 1990. He was elected as an independent to the Tasmanian House of Assembly in 1983 and has served as a federal senator for the Australian Greens since 1996.