Menu toggle

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer



  • Josef Lebovic Gallery collection no. 1(7551)

    Burrinjuck The Tunnel 30 Jan 1911
    Boondara, showing horse teams pulling wagons loaded with wool bales
    Retort House, Mortlake
    Man standing beside a fence with a river in the background
  • Australian Institute of Anatomy collection(163)

    Woven plant fibre basket, with bands of fabric and feathers
    Aboriginal breastplate for Tumberilagong, Chief of the Nuneree Tribe
  • Solomon and Josephine Ahmat collection(18)

    British Fighter Aeroplane Headdress
    Waisted tubular drum with hollow wooden body, carved handle, snake skin drumhead
    British Mitchell Carrier Aeroplane Headdress
    American Fighter Aeroplane Headdress

    Solomon and Josephine Ahmat are two Torres Strait Islander dancers from the Badu Islands in the Torres Straits. They are members of the Goigai Pudhai Badu Island dance group. Their collection, the Solomon and Josephine Ahmat collection of dance costumes and objects, consists of three model Aeroplane mounted headdresses and an aeroplane dance outfit comprising a singlet, a pair of pants, a wrap skirt, two ankle and wrist bands and a grass skirt. The collection also includes Josephine's dress, headband, leg bands and two white hand flags - a costume associated with the Flag dance. A snake skin drum and a seed rattle are also included in this collection.

    This collection of dance outfits and associated objects was used at the Australian War Memorial to celebrate the opening of the 'Australia Under Attack 1942 - 1943' exhibition on 14 December 2004. This was the first time the Aeroplane and Flag dance had been performed outside of the Torres Strait Islands. The dances reflect the memories of World War II in the Islands by the original composers James Eseli and a unnamed female Elder. The Aeroplane dance represents the flight of Allied American and British planes over the Torres Straits with the dancers moving in slow controlled movements in a V formations as the planes would have flown during the war. The headdresses use detailed model replicas of a British Mitchell Carrier plane, an American Fighter plane and a British Fighter plane. This dance is only performed by the men. The Flag dance, which is only performed by women, was conceived after a female Elder saw images of the Navy Semaphore flag signalling system in an old Scout book. The dancers use the flags to signal out words relating to the War and the Torres Straits. Both dances are unique to the Torres Straits and show the creativity and ingenuity of the Islanders when telling a story through performance. The headdresses are significant as they are rarely made and are symbolic of the transfer of knowledge from an elder to the young people in the community. The headdresses and costumes are also significant for their association with the way in which Torres Strait Islander performers recollect a non-Indigenous event or interaction. As such they are an example of the Torres Strait Island tradition of using dance as a narrative form in the representation of their history.

  • Springfield - Faithfull Family collection(3501)

    Geoffrey Faithfull  1st World War
    School report
    Illustration of Lady Howards Gum
    The revelation of God

    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.

  • Timothy Millett collection(313)

    Convict love token from R.S.
    Convict love token from G. Barker, 1843
    Convict love token from R. James, Nottingham, 1790
    Convict love token from Robert Francis, 1848

    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.

  • Aboriginal Arts Board collection no. 2(561)

    Painting depcits a kangaroo in the X-ray
    Painting depicts two fish opposing each other
    Wooden container 'Snake Dreaming at Tjuntina', painted by Tommy Lowry Tjapaltjarri, 1977
    'Yumari', painted by Uta Uta Tjangala, 1978
  • Kevin Hannan collection(9)

    Photograph of Winnie O'Sullivan standing with her hands clasped
    Photograph of Winnie O'Sullivan and Lily Molloy and others
    Lily Molloy kneeling down and holding a posy in her lap
    Gold mourning locket containing a photograph of Australian champion boxer Les Darcy, who died in 1917

    The Kevin Hannan collection consists of material relating to the grieving of Winnie O'Sullivan over the death of her fiance, Australian champion boxer Les Darcy, in 1917. The collection is supported by 2 postcards and 6 photographs depicting Darcy's ill-fated boxing career in America, and friends and family of Winnie O'Sullivan central to the Darcy story throughout various periods of her life.

    After rising to stardom as a champion boxer during the First World War period, Les Darcy became a political scapegoat of the first conscription referendum in 1916. A young, fit and healthy example of Australian masculinity, Darcy symbolized all males whom the greater public had deemed eligible for service and were shirking their duty of serving their country on the battlefield. Darcy subsequently left Australia to establish a boxing career in America, but died from septicaemia caused by a tooth infection in May 1917 at the age of 21. Although the material speaks something of Darcy's plight, it also reflects the ways in which Australians dealt with death, loss and mourning during the early twentieth century, but more importantly, during the devastating years of the First Word War.

  • Nettie McColive collection(189)

    Agricultural Bureau of South Australia Exhibition of Women's Handicrafts Second Prize, 1937 awarded to Miss Huppatz

    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.