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National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer



  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7551)

    Oxford Street, Sydney, NSW
    Riverside, Nepean River, Emu Plains
    Postcard featuring a coloured print of the Australian flag, with an inset photograph of an observation unit
    Circular Quay, from the Harbour, Sydney
  • Ruby Lee collection(134)

    Handwritten poem titled
    S.W.W.C.A. 1934 Australian XI
    Photograph of Ruby Monaghan in cricket attire
    Handwritten poem
  • Horne-Bowie collection(720)

    Glass spearhead
    Kimberley point
    Kimberley point
    Glass spearhead
  • 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.

  • Springfield Merino Stud collection(166)

    Certificate awarded at the Murrumbidgee Annual Show, 1886, Champion Prize
    Yass Spring Show, 1906, Second Prize
    Photograph of 1884 winning rams
    Yass Spring Show, 1906, Second Prize
  • Springfield - Faithfull Family collection(3501)

    8017 L'express du Simplon
    Stromkarlen, Trollhattan.
    Black and white photograph of Florence Faithfull at Springfield on Lilian Faithfull's wedding day

    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.

  • Papunya Art 2008 collection(15)

    Pencil and watercolour on paper in Papunya style by unknown Pintupi artist, 1971
    Pencil and watercolour, on paper in Papunya style by unknown Pintupi artist, 1971
    Pencil and watercolour, on paper in Papunya style by unknown Pintupi artist, 1971
    Pencil drawing in Papunya style by unknown Pintupi artist, 1971

    The Papunya Art 2008 Collection consists of fifteen artworks, comprising eleven untitled watercolours and drawings on paper produced by Pintupi artists in 1971, 'Goanna Corroboree at Mirkantji' painted on plywood by Kaapa Tjampitjinpa in 1971, 'Snake Dreaming for Children' painted on particle board by Uta Uta Tjangala in 1971, an untitled work painted on wooden board by Anatjari Tjakamarra in 1972, and an untitled work on linen by Uta Uta Tjangala painted in 1986. It also includes some supporting documentation held in the Archive collection.

    The works in this collection are all significant Indigenous works, representing different stages and some of the major artists involved in the development of the Western Desert art movement at Papunya, which has become internationally renowned as the origin of the contemporary Aboriginal acrylic painting industry. The fourteen works from 1971 and 1972 represent the very earliest phase of the movement at Papunya. The eleven watercolours and drawings on paper , three attributed to Uta Uta Tjangala, represent a formative moment in this movement when artists began experimenting with different media.The sketching of designs on paper took place prior to the production of acrylic paintings. Although the designs themselves had been produced traditionally by the artists as body decoration, ground and cave paintings, when Papunya school teacher Geoffrey Bardon supplied the Pintupi men with paper, watercolour and pencil, this was the first time their designs had been applied to a non-traditional surface. Kaapa Tjampitjinpa, Uta Uta Tjangala and Anatjari Tjakamarra were all important artists who contributed to the birth and subsequent development of the Papunya painting movement. The three paintings on boards in this collection, done during 1971 and 1972, therefore enhance the Museum's holdings of significant works from this early period. The 1986 Uta Uta Tjangala painting is also a significant addition to the NMA's growing holdings of this important artist. Overall, the items in this collection are significant in expanding the chronological sweep of the NMA's holdings of Papunya related material, beyond its current strengths in the 1974-1981 period.

  • Scott Rainbow collection(81)

    Decorated boomerang, inscribed with
    Pokerwork shield with four trees motifs and animals on anterior, stylistically attributed to La Perouse, Sydney
    Boomerang featuring front halves of cow and horse in centre and geometric designs on arms
    Oval-shaped iron coolamon

    This collection consists of eighty one decorated objects including boomerangs, clubs, scrimshaw, stock whip handles, shields and walking sticks. The majority of the objects are associated with Aboriginal missions during the late nineteenth to mid twentieth centuries, in particular the Barambah/ Cherbourg mission (QLD), La Perouse (NSW), Palm Island (QLD), and Lake Tyers (VIC). Various locations in South Australia are also included.

    From the late nineteenth century Aboriginal people in Eastern Australia created a range of artefacts decorated with incised, carved, painted and pokerworked motifs, which documented their experiences of interaction with European settlers. 'Non-traditional' designs emerged which were specific to individual missions - such as the cross hatching and playing card iconography characteristic of Cherbourg and the incised flora and fauna motifs characteristic of La Perouse. Many of the objects in this collection reflect these new designs, and depict the changing circumstances brought about by European settlement as well as continuing links to land and traditional cultural practices. When used as trade items, these objects quickly became sought after, and as production increased they found a market as tourist souvenirs. This collection brings together a range of such objects from several key sites, including two of the most important east coast mission stations, Cherbourg and La Perouse. It also includes a number of hybrid objects, such as a tin yandi and a nail club, which combine tradition forms and functions with non-traditional materials. This collection is significant for including types of objects not well represented in existing museum collections, and for representing the range of objects being made by Indigenous people in Eastern Australia during this period, particular those living on missions.