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Star Wars – feel the Force
powerline autumn 09 1
iSSue 93 marCH april maY 2009
Dr Dawn CaSeY pSm FaHa, DireCtor, powerHouSe muSeum. riGHt: a YounG viSitor BuilDS a roBot in Star warS: wHere SCienCe meetS imaGination. pHoto BY SotHa Bourn.
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From the director Power picks Cover story: Star Wars volunteers New acquisition: Moulin Rouge collection Members news Events calendar Exhibitions at a glance Excavations at Sydney Observatory New display: Contemporary Japanese fashion Obituary: Nancy-Bird Walton New exhibition: Engineering Excellence Sydney Observatory news Powerhouse Discovery Centre news Foundation news
from the director
it is now 12 months since i joined the powerhouse, and i wanted to take the opportunity to reflect on my first year and outline some of the challenges and opportunities that face us. in the course of the year i have engaged with a wide range of people in discussion about what we do, how we do it, and how we might improve our services. a consistent theme in each of these exchanges has been the regard with which people hold the museum’s remarkable collection, the responsibility we have to hold it ‘in trust’ for future generations, and the opportunities the collection presents to educate and inspire. this is an institution which commands great respect. But many of those i spoke with want us to do better. For some, the diversity of our collection and exhibitions has created a confused identity for the museum, defined primarily by the most recent major international exhibition. as the powerhouse has become increasingly recognised as a venue for major temporary exhibitions, visitor engagement with the permanent galleries has declined. a number of these have remained substantially unchanged since the museum opened on the current site in 1988. Some now require renewal, both to reflect contemporary approaches in exhibition presentation, and the significant developments in technologies and issues of concern to the community. these observations present us with an opportunity. in the first half of 2009 we will develop the Strategic plan for the next three years. a key objective of the planning process is to develop a more coherent statement of purpose, which will in turn shape the development of the collection, our exhibitions and our public programs. it may mean that some activities are expanded, and others scaled back or deemed inconsistent with our revised priorities. i am committed to the development of ‘in house’ temporary exhibitions. this will provide enhanced opportunities for the museum to exhibit some of the remarkable objects which speak of our history, our innovation and our unique character. education programs will be strengthened, with greater attention given to science, mathematics and engineering. the Star wars exhibition has demonstrated the opportunity to work collaboratively with educational institutions and industry – in this case the university of technology, Sydney and alcatel-lucent – to deliver public programs with a vocational focus in areas such as science, robotics and sustainable technologies. we plan to increase collaborative education and public programs. the museum is represented on a number of committees charged with the responsibility for the development of the national curriculum, and there are exciting opportunities to align the renewal of permanent exhibition spaces with themes developed for the curriculum. we seek to become a more outwardly focused
the magazine of the powerhouse museum autumn 09
Cover: volunteer Stormtrooper linColn Green witH viSitorS in CoStume on tHe openinG niGHt oF Star warS: wHere SCienCe meetS imaGination. pHoto BY SotHa Bourn.
Star Wars – feel the force
Dr nicholas G pappas, president professor Shirley alexander mr mark Bouris ms trisha Dixon mr mark nicholaeff ms margaret Seale mr anthony Sukari ms Judith wheeldon am
Dr Dawn Casey pSm FaHa,
manaGer, reGiStration anD ColleCtion manaGement
General manaGer, Corporate anD FinanCeS
manaGer, StrateGiC poliCY anD planninG
aCtinG General manaGer, marKetinG, proGramS anD CommerCial ServiCeS
prinCipal Curator, DeSiGn anD SoCietY
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organisation. as governments focus increasingly on the ‘creative industries’ as drivers of 21st century economies, the museum has opportunities to collaborate with the industries and innovators that are at the heart of the ‘new’ economy. Just as the powerhouse showcased and helped explain the wonders of the industrial age, so too do we have opportunities to collect and interpret emerging technologies – whether they be in digital communications, robotics or designs for sustainable technologies. the powerhouse is uniquely placed to showcase these technologies, and to develop innovative ways to engage audiences with challenging messages. the difficult economic times facing the world mean the museum will need to be increasingly resourceful in demonstrating to government, to sponsors and to the wider community the potential for
tHe muSeum HaS opportunitieS to CollaBorate witH tHe Creative inDuStrieS anD innovatorS tHat are at tHe Heart oF tHe ‘new’ eConomY.
its unique collection and talented staff to contribute to our economic, educational and social development. i was heartened however by the generosity of the response to the powerhouse Foundation’s annual appeal. the many small and large donations reflected a commitment to sustain the museum as a dynamic and relevant institution. the past 12 months has seen the departure of two members of our executive team. in august associate Director Kevin Sumption left to take up an appointment in Britain. one of Kevin’s final projects was the completion of arrangements for the Star wars exhibition, the conclusion of a career chapter which had commenced as a curator and gone on to the leadership of the museum’s exhibition program development. Deputy Director Jennifer Sanders left the museum in
January, as part of the nSw government’s strategy to reduce senior executive levels. Jennifer’s career with the powerhouse spanned more than 30 years. She was part of the team which managed the transition from our former site, further down Harris Street. She was also centrally involved in the development of the collection and exhibitions on the current site, including the inspired! gallery. i hope Jennifer will continue her association with us, albeit in a different capacity, so that we continue to have the benefit of her detailed knowledge of the collection. i have greatly enjoyed my first 12 months at the powerhouse. i want to acknowledge the Board of trustees, my colleagues at the museum and the many people in the wider community who have shared with me their passion for this place, and their desire to see it build on its admirable reputation.
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where science meets imagination
one of the key themes of Star wars: where Science meets imagination is real world advances in robotics. and just down the road from the powerhouse, our exhibition partner the university of technology, Sydney, is home to the magic lab, where professor mary-anne williams and her research team are imagining, designing and building the robots of tomorrow. the magic lab recently launched its ambitious robot life and Being project. at the heart of the project is a new state-of-the-art robot named Smokey, a robot bear that is capable of walking on two legs or all fours. the project team aims to
leFt: powerHouSe wizarD alexanDra Gilmour in tHe inSpireD! exHiBition. pHoto BY marinCo KoJDanovSKi; Below: SmoKeY tHe roBot Bear, DevelopeD BY tHe maGiC laB at utS, attraCtS YounG minDS to tHe worlD oF SCienCe anD teCHnoloGY; HluBoKa CHateau, one oF tHe StatelY HomeS tHat will Be viSiteD on tHe KinGS anD CaStleS oF BoHemia powerHouSe DiSCoverY tour.
develop complex cognitive capabilities that will see Smokey really come to life by 2012. He will be self-aware and (unlike today’s robots) Smokey will know what he is doing, why, how and with whom. in other words, Smokey will be able to meaningfully interact and collaborate with people and other robots to achieve shared objectives and cope with the unanticipated. Smokey (and professor mary-anne williams) will be making a guest appearance at the powerhouse museum on Sunday 26 april for a not-to-be-missed talks after noon event from 2.00 – 3.00 pm. on 22 april 2009, and in partnership with utS, the museum will also present a science education symposium looking at how to inspire young australians to pursue careers in science and technology. visit powerhousemuseum.com/ whatson for details.
behind the seams ecologic kits are go!
most people agree that sustainability is one of the key issues facing australia in the 21st century. that’s why curator Sandra mcewen applied for a grant to develop an ecologic exhibition in a kit to travel across regional australia and help spread the word about living sustainably. three kits have been produced and were officially launched by the minister assisting the premier on the arts, the Hon virginia Judge, in December last year. as well as containing a small exhibition for use by schools or local libraries, the kits include lesson plans, videos, historic photographs and product samples demonstrating the principles of design for the environment. the museum will be trialling the kits in regional areas throughout 2009.
tHe eColoGiC Kit waS DevelopeD witH tHe aSSiStanCe oF tHe nSw Government’S environmental truSt proGram in ConSultation witH teaCHerS, loCal Government anD environmental eDuCatorS.
School teachers, costume designers, dress historians, and museum staff and volunteers from across nSw gathered at the powerhouse late last year for a seminar on conserving and displaying dress collections. a highlight of the day was the launch of the australian Dress register, an online database that will showcase significant colonial and early 20th century dress collections. For information on the Dress register, an initiative of the powerhouse movable Heritage nSw program, go to powerhousemuseum.com/ dressregister/
meet the new Powerhouse Wizard
at 24 years of age, alexandra Gilmour is the youngest recipient of the powerhouse wizard award and is looking forward to representing the museum in 2009. alexandra is an industrial designer and graduate of the university of technology Sydney. She is currently completing a masters in Design, researching the use of steam in commercial dishwashers, an innovation that has the potential to save thousands of litres of water. at present the project is in prototype stage, as alex continues experimenting with the use of steam and its cleaning performance on dishware. the powerhouse wizard award, sponsored by wizard Home loans, was established by the museum to recognise emerging leaders in australian innovation and achievement. the wizard receives a $5000 career development scholarship and has the opportunity to take part in the museum’s public programs. For more information go to powerhousemuseum.com/ wizard
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tHe Hon veritY FirtH, nSw miniSter For eDuCation anD traininG, iS piCtureD Here at tHe launCH oF tHe annual DeSiGnteCH exHiBition witH awarD winninG StuDentS anDrew van Baal, DaviD revaY anD alFreD BoYaDGiS.
aBove: Curator linDie warD DemonStrateS How to DreSS a mannequin at tHe Seminar; leFt: tHe Hon virGinia JuDGe witH prinCipal Curator SanDra mCewen. pHotoS BY SotHa Bourn anD GeoFF FrienD.
our movable heritage
BooK now For tHe maY 2009 powerHouSe DiSCoverY tour to tHe CzeCH repuBliC, leD BY Dr Jana vYtrHliK oF tHe powerHouSe muSeum anD JolYon warwiCK JameS. viSit renaiSSanCetourS. Com.au/DiSCoverY or Call (02) 9299 5801 For DetailS.
Congratulations to elissa macDonald, the 2009 winner of the pHm movable Heritage Fellowship. elissa, a museum studies student at macquarie university and volunteer at the Hornsby Historical Society, is planning to research the history of the local newspaper the advocate, which has been operating for almost 100 years. the award includes an internship placement of one week at the powerhouse and a cash grant of $5000 to assist with the costs of the project.
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volunteers make Star wars: where Science meets imagination a very special place to be.
the Force is with you
StorY BY traCY GoulDinG, powerline eDitor
long before the Star wars exhibition opened in December last year, volunteers were generating a buzz at the museum, appearing in costume and installing starship and robot models in the foyer to excite and inspire visitors. as the opening day approached the pace and the excitement accelerated as costumed volunteers made guest appearances at media previews and special opening events. Celebrations culminated in the sell out opening night when over 1500 visitors came along to experience the thrill and see the exhibition first. among the highlights of the night were undoubtedly the volunteers in full costume – storm troopers, Jedi and Darth vader to mention but a few – and the r2-D2 replicas complete with sound effects. together they helped bring the exhibition to life, adding to the fascination of the many displays and interactives. paul o’malley is a member of the Star wars costume groups novus ordo and the 501st legion, as well as the r2-D2 Builders Club. He not only appeared in costume at the opening events and during the summer holidays but also coordinated the large crew of costume volunteers who have helped make the exhibition so much fun for visitors. Here he talks about the experience: ‘it’s hard to tell people what being in armour is about. it’s like sky diving, you have to do it to understand. Having said that, it’s a buzz and a joy to light up not only kid’s faces but their parents as well. we take a lot of time and spend a lot of money
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to make sure people see us as walking right off the screen, be it at the powerhouse or one of the several children’s hospitals we visit each year. the helmet gives you a ‘wall’ which allows people to drop all their normal fears and inhibitions. people just enjoy having us around. when they think you’re a mannequin and then you move it get’s their hearts pumping. this exhibition has the advantage of interaction so it’s not just a matter of standing and looking, you can actually get involved with the displays and learn as you go. with us being there in costume, it lets visitors interact with the characters even more. overall i feel this has been a great success for both the trooping groups and the powerhouse. it goes to show that groups working together, no matter what, is beneficial for all.’ as well as the costume volunteers and model makers, there’s also a dedicated team of Star wars fans and science enthusiasts who have helped visitors enjoy the displays and interactive activities, and understand the science and technology behind them. in total 120 volunteers signed up to assist in the exhibition, generously donating their time, skills and enthusiasm to help the museum stage one of its most ambitious projects ever. we would like to thank them and all our long term volunteers who contribute so much to the powerhouse experience.
Star warS: wHere SCienCe meetS imaGination, preSenteD BY BoSe Corporation, waS DevelopeD BY tHe muSeum oF SCienCe, BoSton & luCaSFilm ltD. exHiBition CloSeS 26 april 2009.
volunteerS From top leFt: niCK BiSHop in Stormtrooper CoStume; r2-D2 witH Some YounG FrienDS; DYlan weCH anD a YounG viSitor in Clone CmD CoStumeS; Stormtrooper Greame millS witH Some YounG viSitorS; JeDi lorena GonzaleS anD paul quinton; roB Hunt aS DartH vaDer witH GueStS anD witH a YounG luKe SKYwalKer (Below); miCK pYlaK aS JanGo Fett. pHotoS BY marinCo KoJDanovSKi anD SotHa Bourn.
aBove: paul o’malleY in Stormtrooper CoStume witH JeDi Dave Hill on tHe openinG niGHt oF Star warS: wHere SCienCe meetS imaGination. tHe 501St leGion, novuS orDo: Star warS CoStuminG allianCe oF auStralia anD tHe r2-D2 BuilDerS CluB are not-For-proFit GroupS run BY anD For Star warS FanS. Star warS elementS: ©2009 luCaSFilm ltD. & tm.
‘it’S HarD to tell people wHat BeinG in armour iS aBout. it’S liKe SKY DivinG, You Have to Do it to unDerStanD. HavinG SaiD tHat, it’S a Buzz anD a JoY to liGHt up not onlY KiD’S FaCeS But tHeir parentS aS well.’
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from the members team
thank you to all our members who let us know that the powerhouse museum was the place to be this summer! our members have completely immersed themselves in the Star wars universe, with recordbreaking numbers at the museum and a wonderful turn out to the launch party and our curator-led, after-hours event in January. if you’re one of the few who hasn’t visited the exhibition yet, never fear, it is open until 26 april. and don’t forget, as a member, you enjoy unlimited free, express entry to all exhibitions, including Star wars. as always the april School Holiday program looks to be full of wonderful activities, workshops and live stage shows for children of all ages. also don’t miss the powerplay program on the first monday of each month, especially devised for pre-schoolers. For the fashion conscious, there’s a fantastic new display on level 2 – Contemporary Japanese fashion: the Gene Sherman collection featuring a selection of garments by Japanese designers. and in may, Sydney observatory in conjunction with Sydney writers’ Festival and the national trust’s SH ervin Gallery will present a fascinating talk and book signing by author Kate Grenville, followed by an evening of star gazing. i hope to see you all in the members lounge for a relaxing cup of tea sometime this autumn.
leonie JoneS memBerS marKetinG exeCutive
the museum acquires a dream costume collection.
Moulin Rouge glamour
StorY BY linDie warD, Curator, DeSiGn HiStorY anD SoCietY
in 2001 the powerhouse displayed a stunning collection of costumes and images from moulin rouge, the award winning film created by australian director Baz luhrmann with designers Catherine martin and angus Strathie. now the Feature Film Division of 20th Century Fox has generously donated 14 costumes from the film and a selection of props and continuity books, making these cinematic artefacts a permanent part of our collection. Costume highlights include the ‘Black Diamonds’ outfit worn by nicole Kidman, featuring a corselet heavy with beads and sequins, which was beaded in india and took 15 months to perfect. Her ‘pink Diamonds’ corselet with its tail of flamingo-pink ostrich feathers is also included, along with the glamorous red satin dress
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pictured above. the collection also includes superb character outfits such as toulouse lautrec’s magical Sitar costume worn by John leguizamo and Harold zidler’s suit worn by Jim Broadbent. the elaborate cancan costumes worn by Christine anu, veronica Beattie, lara mulcahy and Jenny wilson are another highlight. Seven continuity books in the collection provide a fascinating insight into the design process, including fabric sheets and design drawings for most of the major dance scenes and characters. the moulin rouge collection complements the costumes from luhrmann’s first movie, Strictly ballroom, which are also held by the museum and were displayed in 1991. You can explore both collections online at powerhousemuseum.com/ collection/database
‘BlaCK DiamonDS’ CoStume, ‘reD Satin’ DreSS anD ‘HinDi weDDinG’ CoStume, DeSiGneD BY Baz luHrmann, CatHerine martin anD anGuS StratHie For moulin rouGe, SYDneY 2000. pHotoS BY Sue StaFForD.
volunteer Daniel rYan aS CmD BlY witH a YounG prinCeSS leia anD anaKin SKYwalKer; FatHer anD Son in CoStume on openinG niGHt; volunteer SCott tYler maKeS an impaCt in tuSKen raiDer CoStume; JeDi SaraH Callan in tHe Star warS exHiBition. pHotoS BY SotHa Bourn.
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marCH april maY 2008
marK tHeSe exCitinG eventS in Your CalenDar anD viSit tHe muSeum’S weBSite For a Full liStinG oF wHat’S on.
EXHIBITIONS AT A GLANCE
memBerSHip entitleS You to Free unlimiteD entrY to Star warS: wHere SCienCe meetS imaGination. plan Your viSit earlY in tHe DaY to avoiD DiSappointment.
Date / loCation
event / CoSt
28 March 8.00 – 10.00 pm Sydney observatory
Cost: $15 adult, $10 child, $45 family, members discounts. Bookings essential on 9921 3485 or sydneyobservatory.com
Discover the amazing night sky from Sydney observatory as the city switches off its lights for earth Hour.
Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination
levelS 1 anD 2,
Daily, 10–27 April 11.00 am – 3.00 pm level 2, outside zoe’s House 13–17 April & 20–24 April 11.00 am & 1.00 pm level 1, turbine Hall Weekends during school holidays, 10.00 am – 3.00 pm level 2 theatres and foyer
For ages 8 and under
a creative activity space for children who like to make-and-do. also available on the first monday of each month during term for pre-schoolers. Help Cogs, our problem solving robot, find the dragon hiding in the museum.
100 hours of astronomy at Sydney Observatory
Sat 4 & Sun 5 April 7.30 pm – 10.00 pm relax under a canopy of stars and enjoy the music, view the Jewel Box, a gem-like cluster of stars within the Southern Cross and see a rare view of Saturn without its famous rings. these open nights are part of the international Year of astronomy’s 100 Hours of astronomy, a world-wide event featuring live webcasts and public telescope viewings.
Cost: Cost: $15 adult, $10 child, $45 family. no bookings required.
until 26 april
Cogs and the dragon live stage show
For ages 10 and under
Star Wars weekends
Solve the mystery of what happened to pHm9 in the triton adventure show or take the challenge to see how many Star wars lego clones you can you build in a minute.
Don’t miss one the greatest adventures of all time at the powerhouse museum. Star wars: where Science meets imagination is an epic journey through the Star wars universe. explore the inventive technologies via multimedia installations, immersive experiences and over 80 costumes, models, artefacts and full-scale replicas. Discover the real-world scientific innovations that are rapidly turning fantasy into reality. Living in a sensory world: stories from people with blindness and low vision
level 2, auStralian CommunitieS GallerY
each year, the Sydney Division of engineers australia conducts an awards program to showcase outstanding engineering projects. they show how engineers are creating innovative solutions to provide for society’s needs in areas such as education, energy and transport. on display is a selection from this year’s winners. designTECH 2008
level 2, until 22 marCH 2009
designteCH showcases outstanding major design projects by 2008 Higher School Certificate students of Design and technology. this annual exhibition features furniture, fashion, graphic design, architecture and industrial design.
Yinalung yenu: women’s journey
12 – 26 April Sydney observatory
Saturn is coming to Sydney Observatory
visit sydneyobservatory.com for details.
Great holiday fun for the family including the 3-D Space theatre, guided telescope tours and Saturn viewing. non-stop Saturn fun with solar system games and prizes, a rocket launch, planetarium show and much more. our holiday program will take young visitors on a journey into the past via activities and stories, all with a gypsy theme. award winning children’s author Kate Forsyth will be guest storytelller on thursday 16 & 23 april from 10.30 am. make a movie, learn how to be a DJ, record a song or edit a video in these holiday workshops in the museum’s digital media learning centre. visit shvl.org for details. Celebrate mother’s Day at a very special talks after noon event with liz Stevens speaking about the glittering world of antique jewellery. Hear Kate Grenville talk about her new book the lieutenant, followed by stargazing and refreshments. enjoy a unique evening of stargazing during the Smart light Sydney Festival. view the constellations, meet astronomers and enjoy food stalls and entertainment.
aBove: CHilDren’S autHor Kate ForSYtH; riGHt: tiara, BrooCH anD CaSe, maDe BY parDonneau anD DaumeSnil, pariS, aBout 1880. GiFt oF anne SCHoFielD., 2006.
21 April 10.00 am – 1.30 pm Sydney observatory 14 – 17 April & 21 – 24 April powerhouse Discovery Centre
Saturn fever party day
For ages 8 and under Cost: $10 child, $22 three children, members discounts
today, people living with blindness or low vision in australia participate in every aspect of community life, thanks to developments in education, training and technology. this exhibition gives visitors a window into the sensory world of the blindness community and celebrates their achievements. The Magic Garden: MBF Foundation Healthy Kids Unit
in this exhibition six prominent indigenous women share their stories and reveal the important place that women have in indigenous society. personal objects chosen by the six women are complemented by works made by contemporary indigenous craftswomen. Chinese belt toggles
level 3, until June 2009
Time travellers at Castle Hill
visit castlehill.powerhousemuseum. com/ for details about the school holiday program and open days on the second Saturday of each month
Help your children learn about healthy eating and healthy activity while having fun. the magic Garden is an imaginative interactive environment, developed in consultation with health experts, where 2–8 year olds can play and learn.
a small display of carved ornaments traditionally worn by Chinese men. these functional items had great symbolic significance and are also objects of great beauty. Space + Zero Gravity Space Lab
15 – 24 April SoundHouse vectorlab
School holiday workshops
ages 8–17 Cost: one day workshop $60/$54 members Four day workshop $270/$243 members bookings essential at shvl.org
10 May 2.00 – 3.00 pm
Your mother’s pearls
visit powerhousemuseum.com/whatson for full details
Contemporary Japanese fashion: The Gene Sherman collection
level 2, until 31 maY
Find out what it’s like to live and work in space and take a walk through the zero Gravity Space lab, a fun interactive that creates the illusion of being weightless. Travelling exhibitions Greening the Silver City: seeds of bush regeneration
liSmore CitY liBrarY, until 22 marCH port oF YamBa HiStoriCal SoCietY, 28 marCH – 24 maY
23 May 6.00 – 8.30 pm Sydney observatory 29 & 30 May 6.00 – 10.00 pm Sydney observatory
Sydney Writers’ Festival event
Cost: $30 adults, $26 conc, members discounts. Bookings essential on (02) 9921 3485 or sydneyobservatory.com
Sydney’s biggest star party!
Cost: $17 adults, $10 child/conc, $47 family, members discounts.
a selection of striking garments by the avant-garde designers issey miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons. the garments were part of Dr Gene Sherman’s wearing wardrobe of Japanese designer fashion and have recently been donated to the museum.
FRUiTS: Tokyo street style – photographs by Shoichi Aoki
GriFFitH reGional art GallerY, 30 april – 7 June
Modern times: the untold story of modernism in Australia
HeiDe muSeum oF moDern art, viCtoria, 21 marCH – 19 JulY 2009
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the museum displays highlights from a striking collection of Japanese fashion.
a passion for fashion
StorY BY Claire roBertS anD min-JunG Kim, Senior Curator anD Curator, aSian artS anD DeSiGn
uncovering the history of Observatory Hill
StorY BY GeoFF wYatt, SYDneY oBServatorY, & Caitlin allen, nSw Government arCHiteCt’S oFFiCe
Sydney observatory sits on the highest hill in the Sydney Cove region and in the early days of european settlement played a vital role in time keeping and communication. But before the observatory was built there was another reason the hill was so important to the young colony: Fort phillip. the fort was the first major permanent public work to be built by the colonial government and was intended to become a citadel. Surrounded by a ditch it was designed as a keep from which the Sydney garrison could hold off potential rioting. Construction continued until early 1806, when work appears to have stopped with the building only partially complete. much of the fort was demolished in 1856 to make way for the observatory. in november 2008 the nSw Government architect’s office and Casey & lowe pty ltd began archaeological work on behalf of the museum as part of a conservation program to mark the observatory’s 150th anniversary. the purpose of the work was to further the understanding of the entire site and Sydney’s early history. the excavation program
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revealed substantial, intact foundations of the fort and evidence of a bomb-proof chamber, the existence of which had long been suspected but never confirmed. military and domestic artefacts such as gun shot, buttons and ceramics were also found. the remnant stonework blocks from the walls of the bombproof have slightly curved faces, indicating the room had a barrel roof within the fort wall. remnants of the bomb-proof’s plaster floor also survive. a fireplace was found in the northern wall of the room, containing a substantial charcoal deposit with a range of artefacts in it including flints. the bomb-proof and fort footings are the earliest of their kind to be found in australia. there are few sites surviving that provide such a window into the earliest days of colonial settlement in australia. a plan has been submitted to the nSw Heritage office outlining a proposal for protection, interpretation and ongoing management of the 200 year old bomb-proof. it is hoped that it will be ready for regular public viewing later this year during the international Year of astronomy 2009.
exCavationS reveal eviDenCe oF a BomBprooF anD Fort FootinGS, tHe earlieSt exampleS to Have Been FounD in auStralia.
aBove; tHe exCavation Site on oBServatorY Hill; riGHt; Caitlin allen oF tHe nSw Government arCHiteCt’S oFFiCe worKinG at tHe Site.
‘these garments fall in different ways as you move ... they really are like kinetic sculptural works’ – Gene Sherman in the early 1980s issey miyake, Yohji Yamamoto and rei Kawakubo stunned the fashion establishment with collections that challenged conventional notions of dress. unlike much western fashion, which was tailored to fit the contours of the body, garments by Japanese designers were asymmetrical, unstructured and oversized, drawing on features that derive from traditional Japanese aesthetics and dress. Dr Gene Sherman, director of the Sherman Contemporary art Foundation and former museum trustee, began purchasing the work of these designers in the mid 1980s. She recently donated 62 garments from her collection to the powerhouse. a selection of these went on display in late February. Gene, who migrated to australia from South africa, had her first encounter with Japanese fashion at a boutique in Double Bay, Sydney. She was fascinated by the originality of a one-sleeved leather jacket designed by issey miyake and bought it there in 1985. this garment marks the beginning of her love affair with contemporary Japanese fashion. and is among those featured in the display. in 1986 Gene became director of the irving Sculpture Gallery, paddington, later Sherman Galleries. the following year she made her first trip to Japan, and felt ‘instantly at home’. Since then Gene has travelled to Japan on numerous occasions and been involved with many projects that have linked
artists and curators in both countries. along the way she has assembled a large wardrobe of contemporary Japanese fashion, which has become integral to her public persona and an expression of her identity. most of Gene’s wardrobe was acquired during her twiceyearly trips to tokyo. She shops quickly and with great focus. During a recent conversation Gene observed that she ‘does’ the miyake, Yamamoto and Comme des Garçons shops in aoyama, tokyo, in the space of 45 minutes. Gene thinks of her clothes as compositions on the body and is conscious of the lines of garments. She is particularly attracted to voluminous and sculptural skirts. She never buys the intended designer tops, preferring instead to add her own simple black tops which she integrates with a dramatic belt. Her criteria for clothing is that items must be light, non-crease and easy to pack for travelling, monochrome in order to maximise flexibility of use, and comfortable. Gene has a wearing wardrobe of about 20 designer garments. as she acquires a new piece she retires older ones. this discipline has informed her collecting and wearing of clothes for many years. Her donation of ‘retired’ garments to the powerhouse represents a significant addition to the museum’s holdings of contemporary Japanese fashion. Gene will be talking about her collection at the powerhouse on wednesday 6 may from 12.30 – 1.30 pm.
ContemporarY JapaneSe FaSHion: tHe Gene SHerman ColleCtion iS on DiSplaY until 31 maY
meSH JaCKet witH zipper anD HooD, nYlon/ polYeSter, DeSiGneD BY iSSeY miYaKe inC, Japan, 1998. GiFt oF Dr Gene SHerman, 2009. moDelleD BY Collette. StYleD BY GreG perano. pHoto BY paul Green.
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StorY BY DeS Barrett, Curator, enGineerinG & DeSiGn
tHe national aquatiCS Centre, BeiJinG. pHoto CourteSY arup + ptw.
Nancy-Bird Walton 1915–2009
BY ian DeBenHam, Curator, tranSport
each year, the Sydney Division of engineers australia conducts an awards program to showcase outstanding engineering projects. a selection of these is displayed annually at the powerhouse, demonstrating the diversity. skill and innovation evident in australian engineering and design today. one of the most impressive models on display is something many readers will recognise: the ‘water Cube’, site of the 2008 Beijing olympics swimming event. the cube-shaped national aquatic Centre is an exceptional feat of engineering and architecture that has taken its place as one of the world’s iconic structures today. the
Cube is made from a network of steel tubes, clad with translucent energy efficient ethylene-tetrafluoro-ethylene (etFe), with its design based on the pattern of cells and soap bubbles. the bubbles collect solar energy and help heat the swimming pools. the Cube, designed by ptw architects of australia, CSCeC international Design, arup Structural engineers and built by CSCeC (China State Construction engineering Corporation), is the winner of the JJC Bradfield award. this is presented to the overall winner selected from all categories. other highlights for sustainable design include the
Dux airoHeat® Heat pump water Heater, which utilises solar generated energy in the surrounding air to heat water for domestic use, and zipform, a reusable system of interlocking hinged prisms which can ‘zip’ objects together to form a solid structure. the structure can later be dismantled for easy storage and transport. the invention offers a potentially huge range of prism and hinge designs, and functional structures. the Freedom wheelchair developed by lu papi & associates uses nanotechnology to create an ultralight chair that has been designed for simplicity of manufacture, easy assembly
and affordability. the wheelchair was designed specifically to meet the user’s needs. this required innovative thinking, incorporating input from wheelchair users, spinal cord injury specialists, biomechanical engineers and other professionals. also on display are the pC3 Series programmable Controller, a configurable single board computer for industrial applications; and the elektron quattro Computer Controlled automated Cutter, an industrialstrength automated cutting system for fabricators working with textiles.
enGineerinG exCellenCe iS on DiSplaY until novemBer 2009.
From an early age, nancy Bird knew that she wanted to fly. at the age of 17 she took lessons, with Charles Kingsford Smith ‘Smithy’ as her first instructor, convinced that aviation was going to be her life. She went on to gain her commercial licence in 1933, making her one of the youngest female commercial pilots in the world. in 1935 she began flying an air ambulance service in remote nSw, establishing her interest in medical aviation, a cause she would support throughout her life. marriage, to Charles walton, followed in 1939 but nancy continued her involvement with aviation, commanding the women’s air training Corp during wwii and later founding the australian women pilots’ association. Her autobiographies Born to fly and my god it’s a woman detail her career in flight and reveal her extraordinary life of service to aviation and her crusade for the role of women in the profession. nancy also had a passionate interest in australian aviation history and this would lead to a long and rewarding relationship
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with the powerhouse museum. nancy happily provided the conduit for her many contacts to pass on their reminiscences and significant artefacts. She had fortunately retained many of the objects of importance in her own history and an extensive archive covering her many aviation-related activities, all of which she has donated to the museum. in 2000–2001 nancy assisted with the development and touring of the museum’s women with wings exhibition and the accompanying publication. She went on to become an unofficial ambassador for the powerhouse, promoting the exhibition and the museum at her frequent public speaking engagements. most recently nancy provided voice-over for ‘Further, Faster, Higher’, screened hourly in the museum’s transport exhibition, and was a special guest at the aviation themed open day at the powerhouse Discovery Centre in october 2007. in recognition of her service to the museum she was made a life Fellow in 2007. She will be greatly missed by all who knew and worked with her.
nanCY BirD in 1932, reaDY to taKe FliGHt; nanCY-BirD walton pHotoGrapHeD BY Sue StaFForD in 1999 For tHe women witH winGS exHiBition anD puBliCation.
a friend remembers
BY JuDY rainSForD, powerHouSe DiSCoverY Centre volunteer & Former nSw preSiDent , auStralian women pilotS’ aSSoCiation
nancy respected history. She recognised the technology of her time and the advances in aviation being achieved by the courage and endurance of australian pilots, navigators and inventors. Charles Kingsford Smith invited nancy to his flying school in the 1930s – the australian astronaut, andy thomas, took her book my God it’s a woman on his space flight. nancy’s passion for aviation spanned the 20th century era of flight and exploration. nancy was a friend – two pilots ‘talking aeroplanes’. She entrusted letters and records to my attention, for nancy recognised their value and never consigned them to a wastepaper basket. newspaper clippings from the 1930s describe the vibrant, controversial society that nancy knew. Her life was a study of contrasts – from flying her beloved aircraft in the hot, dusty outback to presentation at court at Buckingham palace. She was a high flyer! as a nSw president of the australian women pilots’ association i joined nancy at museum events where she enthralled her listeners with stories of women who had battled the male domain to be accepted as commercial pilots. now her heritage shines among the artefacts and records she has left at the powerhouse. nancy will always be a ‘living legend’ in australia.
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powerHouSe DiSCoverY Centre
the astronomer and the writer
long before australia’s oldest observatory was built in the late 1850s, a young astronomer by the name of lieutenant william Dawes volunteered to come to the new colony to set up an observatory. He was supplied with books and instruments by the astronomer royal Dr nevil maskelyne and set sail with the First Fleet in 1786. By the end of July 1788 he had completed a wooden observatory, which was situated on the western point of Sydney Cove, now known as Dawes point. Dawes’ instructions were to look for a comet expected in 1788 and also establish the systematic recordings of the australian weather. He kept a close lookout for the comet, discovered some new nebulae, observed an eclipse of the Sun and made observations on the moon’s parallax and Jupiter’s satellites, as well as making tidal calculations and meteorological readings. Dawes devoted as much time as possible to his observations but the expected comet did not appear and his work was interrupted by other duties. eventually he left the colony in 1791 after a dispute with Governor phillip over his treatment of a group of aboriginal people. He took his scientific equipment with him but left a lasting record of his early observations and time in the colony in his notebooks, letters and meteorological journals, now held in various uK libraries and archives. about 70 years later Sydney observatory was built creating a permanent site in Sydney for the study of the stars. and over 200 years later the author Kate Grenville read his notebooks and became fascinated by the man and his experiences. a mathematician and linguist as well as an astronomer, Dawes’ notebooks reveal that he was visited by the Gadigal people at his isolated wooden observatory and that he studied their language and culture. these experiences became the
Kate Grenville’S lateSt novel iS inSpireD BY tHe YounG aStronomer wHo eStaBliSHeD SYDneY’S FirSt oBServatorY.
illuStration oF SYDneY Cove SHowinG oBServatorY Hill anD, on tHe Far riGHt, DaweS point, BY CHarleS-alexanDre leSeur, 1802 (Detail). powerHouSe muSeum ColleCtion.
starting point for Kate’s new book the lieutenant which, like her earlier book the secret river, provides a moving reflection on the relationships between australia’s indigenous people and european settlers in the early years of the colony. Sydney observatory, in association with Sydney writers’ Festival and the national trust’s SH ervin Gallery, is presenting an evening talk by Kate Grenville, followed by book signing and stargazing on Friday 22 may. the evening will begin at the SH ervin Gallery and concludes at Sydney observatory, where you can see the remains of Fort phillip, constructed between 1804 and 1806, then look through telescopes at the stars and Saturn (weather permitting). entry includes a glass of wine. Bookings and prepayment essential on 9921 3485, or online at sydneyobservatory.com. See events calendar for more details.
taking you behind the scenes of the powerhouse Discovery Centre
site tour experience
a site tour of storage areas not normally accessible to the public is proving to be the most popular group tour at the powerhouse Discovery Centre at Castle Hill. Conducted by a dedicated team of Discovery Centre volunteer guides, the behindthe-scenes experience begins with a brief overview of the museum’s collection management best practice – stable environmental conditions, storage design and techniques, and object documentation procedures. visitors then go on to hear the fascinating stories behind selected objects. among the highlights are the rock’n’roll Cowgirl Sydney 2000 olympic Games opening ceremony costume, designed
CoStumeS From tHe SYDneY 2000 olYmpiC GameS ColleCtion, a HiGHliGHt oF tHe BeHinDtHe-SCeneS Site tour at tHe powerHouSe DiSCoverY Centre. pHoto BY Kate pollarD.
by the celebrated australian designer Jenny Kee. Kee describes the design as ‘a collage of modern america— wild west, the ten gallon hat, denim, route 66, navajo turquoise jewellery, music and art—a witty take on andy warhol’s ‘marilyn’. the costume featured on the ‘americas’ float in the Sydney 2000 olympic Games opening Ceremony. adjacent to the Sydney 2000 olympic Games collection is the museum’s furniture collection, featuring an eclectic display of both 19th and 20th century furniture. Sitting in the storage racks is an early example of australian ‘making-do’ bush furniture by arthur Boon from Dorrigo, nSw. the Boon chair (1910) is an improvised construction, the back composed of seven horizontal, rectangular garden stakes separated by cotton reels and connected to the seat by fencing wire.
Further along in the storeroom is the extensive piano and keyboard collection. a favourite here is a beautiful upright piano by Doerner & Sohn of Germany, about 1880, owned by the legendary author robert louis Stevenson during his time in Samoa. the piano arrived in apia, Samoa on 1 July, 1891 and after Stevenson’s death, was auctioned in august 1898 and taken to auckland. the piano was purchased by the museum in 1961. powerhouse Discovery Centre site tours last for 90 minutes and are available for prebooked groups from tuesday to Friday. alternatively, you can book into one of our museum Storage Glimpse tours available most open Days (the second Saturday of each month, except January). For further information or to book a site tour phone (02) 9762 1300.
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powerline autumn 09
THE POWERHOUSE FOUNDATION
THE POWERHOUSE MUSEUM GRATEFULLY ACKNOWLEDGES THE SUPPORT OF THE FOLLOWING ORGANISATIONS
principal partners senior partners partners supporters platinum corporate members
gypsies and poets
the legendary australian actor Jack thompson am was guest speaker at the Foundation’s most recent president’s Circle lunch. at the beginning of the lunch it was announced that Jack is donating a gypsy caravan to the museum and the actor went on to delight guests with his knowledge about gypsy caravans as well as anecdotes from his long career. Jack acquired the 1915 ‘reading’ gypsy caravan in england in the 1960s and for many years it served as guest accommodation on his northern nSw farm. a desire to see the caravan properly conserved and displayed for public enjoyment led Jack to contact the powerhouse to discuss the possibility of donating it to the collection. the caravan is a valuable addition to the museum’s collection of horse drawn vehicles and is sure to be a popular attraction when displayed at the powerhouse Discovery Centre from april. Best selling author Susan Duncan was another popular
JaCK tHompSon am (Centre) witH JaCK ritCH, CHairman oF tHe powerHouSe FounDation anD Dr niCHolaS G pappaS, preSiDent oF tHe truSt; SuSan DunCan (SeateD) SiGninG CopieS oF Her BooK For GueStS at tHe BrouGHt to liGHt lunCH. pHotoS BY SotHa Bourn & marinCo KoJDanovSKi.
state government partners
Foundation guest, speaking at the Brought to light lunch in november. a former editor of the australian women’s weekly and new idea, Susan’s most recent book the House at Salvation Creek records her time living in historic ‘tarrangaua’, the former home of Dorothea mackellar at pittwater, north of Sydney. a 1915 oak chair thought to have belonged to mackellar and decorated with beautiful handcarved waratah and flannel flowers was brought to light from the museum’s collection for the lunch. a moving recording of mackellar reading her most well known poem, my Country, from the oral history archives of the national library of australia, formed a fitting conclusion to the afternoon. the powerhouse Foundation raises funds to support the acquisition of significant objects for the museum’s collection. For information about Foundation activities, please contact Foundation executive, rebecca noonan on 02 9217 0564.
amp BoeinG auStralia HalKeaS printinG railCorp tHe powerHouSe muSeum iS a StatutorY autHoritY oF, anD prinCipallY FunDeD BY, tHe State Government.
gold corporate members
BrooKFielD multiplex DYSon StanDarDS auStralia/ auStralian international DeSiGn awarDS taFe nSw
australian government partners
auStralia CounCil For tHe artS auStralian reSearCH CounCil
“Technical excellence for your complete event solutions”
BruCe & JoY reiD FounDation GorDon DarlinG FounDation JameS n KirBY FounDation
silver corporate members
arnott’S BiSCuitS ltD art exHiBitionS auStralia
Dunlop FloorinG auStralia maCquarie Group FounDation SiGma-alDriCH ptY ltD
associate corporate members
HinCHCliFFe eleCtriCal ServiCeS
the Foundation thanks the following donors for their recent contribution, including those donors who supported our annual appeal for funds during September and october 2008.
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anonymous anna-rosa Baker annabelle Bennett laurie-anne Bentley Geraldine Bull Judith Campbell william l Chapman Christine Costello murray Doyle Shelley Farriss ellen Forsyth Gina Frisken professor Geoff Gallop Bettina G Gowing the Greatorex Foundation Fm Hooper Sue Keighery and Family
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Joachim Koop Graeme K le roux margaret J mashford valerie p packer John and lynn reid ian and Joanne ritchie Barbara rogers mary ryland alan and anne Slade antonia Syme nancy-Bird walton ao, oBe C and C warrick Judith wheeldon am GJ and Hm wilson Barry willoughby allison wright Frank zipfinger
Governor preSiDent’S CirCle leaDer ColleCtor CuStoDian inveStor Supporter FrienD
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po Box K346 Haymarket nSw 1238 telephone (02) 9217 0111 infoline (02) 9217 0444 education (02) 9217 0222
tHe powerHouSe muSeum, part oF tHe muSeum oF applieD artS anD SCienCeS alSo inCorporatinG SYDneY oBServatorY, tHe powerHouSe DiSCoverY Centre anD tHe nSw miGration HeritaGe Centre, iS a nSw Government Cultural inStitution. everY eFFort HaS Been maDe to loCate ownerS oF CopYriGHt For tHe imaGeS in tHiS puBliCation. anY inquirieS SHoulD Be DireCteD to tHe riGHtS anD permiSSionS oFFiCer, powerHouSe muSeum. iSSn 1030-5750 © truSteeS oF tHe muSeum oF applieD artS anD SCienCeS
powerline is produced by the editorial & publishing Department of the powerhouse museum. editor: tracy Goulding. Design by trigger.
For more inFormation on SponSorSHip opportunitieS anD GivinG to tHe powerHouSe muSeum pleaSe ContaCt Dara vonGSonepHet on (02) 9217 0577. powerline autumn 09 19
powerline autumn 09
FROM THE COLLECTION
phantom of the opera shoe
this shoe designed by Jodie e morrison was made for the production phantom of the opera, first staged in melbourne in 1991. the uppers consist of dark gold stamped leather, edged in red, with a pale gold snakeskin textured leather trim. the extended tongue curls over the front of the shoe, finishing in a red suede tassle. the heel is covered in gold textured leather. this shoe is one of many featured in the book Stepping out: three centuries of shoes, showcasing the museum’s shoe collection. the book is available at the powerhouse Shop or online at powerhousemuseum. com/publications
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