We recently attended two conferences—The artefact, its context, and their narrative: multidisciplinary conservation in historic house museums and Interpretation—future challenge. Two conferences, different themes, yet we came away thinking about a common idea—’spirit of place’.
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I’ve been asked to tell you about my favourite object or space in the museum. Where to start? There are so many wonderful objects and rooms in this beautiful museum that I am spoilt for choice.
For the past six months I’ve had the pleasure of working with our Heritage, Exhibitions and Content Development teams and our external designers/developers to produce the Wear your colours touchscreen interactive for the Living Democracy exhibition.
Joan Child, AO, was Australia’s first female Speaker of the House of Representatives. Her death on 23 February 2013 has been mourned by all sides of politics. When elected in 1974, she was the Australian Labor Party’s first female Member of the House and only the fourth woman to sit in the House.
On 8 March the Museum of Australian Democracy celebrates International Women’s Day. This year marks some significant anniversaries for women in the political sphere and there is no better place in Canberra to mark these events than at the museum, located in Old Parliament House.
Visitors often ask our volunteers and visitor experience staff about the bronze ventilation ducts in the House of Representatives and Senate chambers. These were installed during construction of the building (1923–1927) as part of the original air conditioning system. A lot of people are amazed to learn that air conditioning even existed at that time, and wonder how elaborate it could have been.
Marching through the paint layers of history—revealing the hidden secrets of Provisional Parliament House (part 3)
Do you enjoy messing about with sample pots of paint and mixing in just a touch more white or black to get the shade just so? If you answered a resounding yes then the Members’ Dining Room was your idea of heaven during January.
Jessie Bennett came to Canberra as a trainee librarian in 1947 when the Parliamentary Library and the National Library were combined. Such were the attitudes of the times that she recalls how neighbouring farmers wondered why her father would allow a country girl from Tongala in the Goulburn River valley, Victoria, to go to university—after all, she was only a woman!
The care and preservation of our collections and the building itself often occurs at the micro level and during climatic, seasonal changes. During this time a particular range of threats emerge—pests.
After years consigned to the spare room, the garage and the share house, a television has finally come back to its original home in the Prime Minister’s Suite at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.
The museum has just acquired this photograph and unique letter from a dealer which digs deeper into one of the more famous stories in Australian history.
Our 300th oral history recording made quite an impact thanks to a promotional competition organised with 666 ABC Canberra to select the 300th interviewee. The winner was Quentin O’Keefe who had worked in the Provisional Parliament House as a casual bar attendant in 1974.
So proclaims the slogan on one of the myriad political badges collected during the course of the museum’s Great Badge Swap. The program, launched in June 2011, is an opportunity for you to contribute to the museum’s permanent collection by donating a badge that you have worn to express solidarity, dissent, celebration, hope or humour and to share your personal experiences of wearing the badge and what it signified to you. Your response has been wonderful…and democratic.
Currently on display in the museum’s Prime Ministers of Australia exhibition is former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s boots. The black leather RM Williams riding boots were worn by Kevin Rudd when he tabled a motion in the Commonwealth Parliament on 13 February 2008 apologising to the Stolen Generations for the forced removal of Indigenous children from their families.
The first thing I wrote in my notebook when I attended the recent Museums Australia Conference in Adelaide was ‘I feel large, small, different’. Was this going to be an Alice in Wonderland experience? From the opening ceremony to the closing plenary the conference encouraged me to reflect on this museum and its place in the museum world.
The museum recently acquired two significant objects for its permanent collection which provide an opportunity to explore the road to reconciliation for Australia’s Indigenous people—a message stick and a kangaroo skin petition book.
Recently the museum purchased a unique item. In 1936 former Prime Minister and still-serving Member of the House of Representatives William (Billy) Morris Hughes bought a copy of the book Caravan, by John Galsworthy, as a gift for his daughter Helen.
This month we are celebrating the 150th birthday of John Smith Murdoch, the chief architect for the Commonwealth of Australia who designed Provisional Parliament House, the magnificent building that houses our museum.
666 ABC Canberra Mornings presenter, Alex Sloan, and museum historian, Dr Barry York, are sharing stories from the museum’s oral history collection during September. The latest theme from the collection is ‘librarians and journalists’.
666 ABC Canberra Mornings presenter, Alex Sloan, and museum historian, Dr Barry York, are sharing stories from the museum’s oral history collection during September. The latest theme from the collection is ‘bygone jobs’.