Secret squirrel stationery
I’ve been working at the museum for over 18 months now and, though I’ve become accustomed to the building’s rabbit warren-like layout and (sometimes) pokey rooms, one place that has continued to pique my interest is the room where we keep our office stationery.
Each time I go on the hunt for some post-it notes or a new pen, I can’t help but feel a little like a spy… On the lower level of the building within the North Wing is an unassuming timber door; behind that door is an inset heavy steel door which leads to a narrow room with shelves reaching all the way to a high ceiling.
Inside the room it’s very silent and still—I get the feeling that if I were accidently locked in, no one would hear my cries for help! Fortunately there’s a glowing red panic button on the wall (which I’m yet to test).
After some investigation it seems that our stationery cupboard was originally part of a strong room—a fireproof room designed for the safe keeping of money and valuables. In 1950 it was converted and used as the Library safe. Then, in 1973 it was used by the Bills and Papers Office for storing votes and proceedings.
This room is just one example of the many structural changes made to the building during its time as Provisional Parliament House. By the 1980s the building housed a library, post office, barber, carpentry workshop, bars and a dining room to service the thousands of politicians, parliamentary staff, Hansard reporters, journalists, and dining room and bar staff.
If architecture is kind-of-your-thing or you’re interested in finding out how the building has changed over time, we’ve got an entire section on our website devoted to telling the story of the building. Or, better yet, come to the museum and experience it firsthand.
A small caveat: now we’re not saying we don’t trust you, but for obvious reasons our office stationery ‘safe’ isn’t publicly accessibly. However, there are plenty of other interesting rooms for you to explore at the museum. See our collection online for more information.