Getting it Right
There is a great deal of effort that goes into preparing a museum garment for display which the public never sees. This is especially true for historical items.
Most obviously, there is the core work that our textile conservators do examining and treating works so that they are safe to exhibit. Equally vital is the task of creating the appropriate underpinnings and padded supports which ensure a garment has a historically accurate silhouette, and that the fragile fabrics are supported during display.
During the nineteenth century a lot went on beneath women’s gowns. Victorian fashion relied on a variety of contrivances to generate form; corsets compressed the waist, petticoats, crinolines and later cage-crinolines made skirts wider and fuller, while bustles produced a cantilevered behind. Working in tandem with the garment, these structures performed both functional and aesthetic roles.
At the Going Down of the Sun
One hundred years on, evidence of the impact of the First World War can be plainly seen across Victoria.
Built heritage including cenotaphs, statues, plaques and obelisks are peppered across the state’s public spaces, each dedicated to the commemoration of the war service of the thousands of Victorians who served between 1914 and 1918.
Many of these men and women died in active service and were buried overseas, so locally built monuments served as important places to mourn and remember them. They were places for private and collective mourning, commemoration and remembrance.
These memorials were truly local, often built through community fundraising and supported by communities who shared a sense of loss. Most are inscribed with the names of those who died from the region, while others list the names of all those who served.
Across Victoria, cenotaphs and built memorials remain central to ANZAC Day services, but the way we commemorate has changed with each generation and so has the way we remember and mourn the servicemen of the First World War. Photographic and material culture collections from across the state, catalogued here on Victorian Collections, capture some of the tangible and intangible heritage associated with the shifting ways we commemorate the First World War. They provide meaningful insight in to our society and how we make sense of war and loss.
Summon the Living
Prior to the advent of electronic sound systems, bells were heard ringing throughout the day.
Large bells were attached to buildings. Handheld bells sat on tables and mantel pieces. Bells rang for morning prayer, school time, half time, and dinner time. Bells announced a fire in town or the death of a local. Some bells were passed around within their local community, or re-purposed as presentation gifts, being easily engraved and potentially useful.
This story was originally inspired by Graeme Davison’s book The Unforgiving Minute: How Australia Learned to Tell the Time.
Victorian Collections Team
Celebrations are underway for the remarkable landmark digitisation of 100,000 objects accessible through Victorian Collections.
We are taking this opportunity to reflect back on the early days of the program; reminiscing about how it began, the milestones along the way and all the incredible achievements of the Victorian Collections community.
We are thrilled with the success and interest in Victorian Collections and excited to see the next 100,000 objects.
Way Back When Consulting Historians
Daylesford is a picturesque town, quietly nestled at the foot of Victoria's Great Dividing Range. It is green, lush and magical and its soils are rich with minerals and mineral springs. Indeed it was an early centre of mining activity in post-European settlement Victoria after gold was first found in 1851.
Daylesford has long been both a popular tourist destination and often seen a place of calm and healing. Guest houses flourished alongside mining activity, farming and industry.
Slowly, but surely, in the late 1970s and 1980s, Daylesford and the surrounding areas began to become home to individuals who identified as gay or lesbian. Today it is seen as a gay and lesbian friendly town, indeed a LGBTIQ hub, no doubt helped by the reality that it is home to ChillOut, the largest rural gay and lesbian festival in Australia.
Daylesford Stories explores ideas of community, identity and belonging as it focuses on individual experiences of Daylesford and surrounds and why it is that they call Daylesford home. In doing this, we begin to see a story of how and why this region has become a place of meaning and significance for lesbians and gays and for those who identify as part of the LGBTIQ community.
Through short films, individual profiles and image galleries, we start to explore how identity shapes us and how support and understanding can build community. But, it is important to note that represented here are just some stories of Daylesford. We need to talk to more people, gather additional stories and in so doing, look at more perspectives on why and how it is that Daylesford has become such an important rainbow community. Daylesford Stories is just the beginning.
The Dolls of Victoria: An unveiled toy story
Our attachment to dolls – beyond them being simply an idealised smaller version of a human figure – reflects many aspects of human behaviour and cultural practices.
Dolls have long been attributed with magic powers, associated with religious beliefs, and connected to family rituals and traditions. Whether used as common toys, instruments of storytelling, educational tools, or to provide comfort and support to people during times of distress – dolls have maintained a significant place in many cultures.
Examining their function and use across place and time can reflect major global developments, social changes and the impact of major historical events such as immigration and war. This story looks at the manufacture, use and enjoyment of dolls held in cultural collections throughout the state that have been catalogued here on Victorian Collections.
Alana Bennett Mazzilli
Prisoner of War & Internment Camps: Tatura and Rushworth
Australia, like many other countries, ran internment camps throughout the war years in both New South Wales and Victoria.
During this period, there were two significant camps in country Victoria’s Goulburn Valley region, at Tatura and Rushworth. A total of seven camps were spread between the two regional communities, housing Prisoners of War, enemy alien migrants and civilians living in Australia or other Allied territories and countries.
Open House Melbourne
Modern Melbourne is a series of filmed interviews and rich archival material that documents the extraordinary lives and careers of some of our most important architects and designers including Peter McIntyre, Mary Featherston, Daryl Jackson, Graeme Gunn, Phyllis Murphy and Allan Powell.
Melbourne’s modernist architects and designers are moving into the later stages of their careers. Their influence on the city is strong and the public appreciation of their early work is growing – they have made an indelible mark on Melbourne. Much of their mid-century modernist work and latter projects are now represented on the Victorian Heritage Register.
Many of the Modern Melbourne subjects enjoyed a working relationship and a friendship with Robin Boyd, the influential architect who championed the international modernist movement in Melbourne.
Jary Nemo and Lucinda Horrocks
Collections & Climate Change
The world is changing. Change is a natural part of the Earth’s cycle and of the things that live on it, but what we are seeing now is both like and unlike the shifts we have seen before.
Anthropogenic change, meaning change created by humans, is having an impact on a global scale. In particular, human activity has altered the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, causing the world’s climate to change.
Already in the state of Victoria we are seeing evidence of this change around us. In the natural world, coastal waters are warming and bringing tropical marine species to our bays. Desert animals are migrating to Victoria. Alpine winters are changing, potentially putting plants and animals at risk of starvation and pushing species closer to the margins. In the world of humans, island and coastal dwellers deal with the tangible and intangible impacts of loss as sea levels rise, bush dwellers live with an increased risk of life-threatening fires, farmers cope with the new normal of longer droughts, and we all face extreme weather events and the impacts of social and economic change.
This Collections and Climate Change digital story explores how Victoria’s scientific and cultural collections help us understand climate change. It focuses on three Victorian institutions - Museums Victoria, the Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria and Parks Victoria. It looks at how the information gathered and maintained by a dedicated community of researchers, curators, scientists, specialists and volunteers can help us understand and prepare for a hotter, drier, more inundated world.
The story is made up of a short documentary film and twenty-one examples highlighting how botanical records, geological and biological specimens and living flora and fauna provide a crucial resource for scientists striving to map continuity, variability and change in the natural world. And it helps us rethink the significance of some of Victoria’s cultural collections in the face of a changing climate.
Koorie Heritage Trust
Indigenous Stories about Sport
Less well known is the fact that the first Australian cricket team to tour Britain was an all-Aboriginal team in 1868.
Against the express wishes of the Board of Protection of Aborigines, the Aboriginal 11 was smuggled aboard a ship bound for Sydney and then Britain. Between May and October 1868 they played 47 matches in Britain - they won 14, lost 14 and drew 19, a creditable outcome. A non-Aboriginal Australian team did not tour Britain until ten years later.
CULTURAL WARNING: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander users are warned that this material may contain images and voices of deceased persons, and images of places that could cause sorrow.
The Dreamer & the Cheerful Thing
Some months after my grandfather Bob Snape’s death in 1977 I collected two old trunks full of memorabilia from his last home, in Sandringham.
What a treasure it turned out to be: jammed full of papers, comprising correspondence, diaries, short stories, a poem or two, much of it typed, some of it hand-written, some official-looking documents and some music scores roughly sorted into manila folders, and a variety of souvenirs and ephemera. There were also half a dozen ordnance maps, aerial photographs of some Western Front battlefields and some battered old albums containing postcards, of WW1 France and Belgium, but also of England and Wales. These have since been catalogued on the Warrnambool RSL Victorian Collections page.
Bob’s treasure trove tells the story of his experiences during the war, and that of his younger brother Harold who also fought. Bob was a prolific correspondent and diarist, whilst Harold’s own tiny pocket diary alone ran to approximately 40,000 words. Near the end of his life, Bob told me, “You can burn the lot for all I care. You decide when I’m gone....”
Walter J.R. Barber
Threads: Quilts & waggas
Quilting is often thought of as a pastime more than an art form.
A domestic craft practiced mainly by women, we think of quilt-makers working individually or in intimate circles, sharing stitches and scraps of fabric along with gossip and hushed conversation. In truth, quilts are complex objects.
Both utilitarian and artistic, quilts not only testify to the industriousness and ambition of their makers, but they also enclose generations of economic, cultural and social change.
Quilts tell stories and are objects of inference, through which multiple histories can be glimpsed, imagined, covered over: threads gathered and dropped. Few objects are as riven with the small and large shocks, fears, desires and dreams of everyday life.
When WW1 brought Australians face to face with mass death, a Red Cross Information Bureau and post-war graves workers laboured to help families grieve for the missing.
The unprecedented death toll of the First World War generated a burden of grief. Particularly disturbing was the vast number of dead who were “missing” - their bodies never found.
This film and series of photo essays explores two unsung humanitarian responses to the crisis of the missing of World War 1 – the Red Cross Wounded and Missing Enquiry Bureau and the post-war work of the Australian Graves Detachment and Graves Services. It tells of a remarkable group of men and women, ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances, who laboured to provide comfort and connection to grieving families in distant Australia.
The McIntyre Family
The First World War was an event that involved the whole world.
Thousands of Australian troops were sent into battle in support of Britain and France. Among them were two brothers, John and Jim McIntyre. John McIntyre's experiences are particularly well documented because he brought back many objects from all the places he visited. He also sent many postcards home to his family during the war.
John Lachlan McIntyre was born at Beeac, Victoria in December 1890. He enlisted in the 1st AIF in July 1915. John fought on the Western Front, taking part in the battles of Fromelles and the 2nd Battle of the Somme. He was severely wounded at Fromelles and spent 12 months in hospital in England before returning to the front.
Martin Hallett: In celebration of a career
Victoria is privileged to have a robust GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums) sector. The capacity of our sector is the result of work undertaken by many dedicated people. We would like to take a moment to acknowledge and celebrate a colleague who has played a particularly significant role in ensuring the strength of the Victorian scene.
In April 2016, Martin Hallett retired from his role as Senior Manager of Victorian Cultural Network, part of the Agencies and Infrastructure unit of Creative Victoria. Martin was subsequently awarded with a Victorian Public Service Medal and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Victorian Museum Awards for his four decades of work in the Victorian collections sector.
Portable Justice: The old Bacchus Marsh police lock-up
Scratched into the timber wall of the old Bacchus Marsh police lock–up, these crudely formed words might be a prisoner’s repentance before finally going straight. Or perhaps their regret was short-lived, soon returning to a life of crime.
We will never know if they remained faithful to their promise, but the pledge gives life to the bitter solitude of this place, and others like it.
Prior to the widespread construction of police lock-ups, suspected criminals were subject to primitive forms of detention. In some towns, alleged culprits were tied to trees while awaiting trial, and were often subject to threats of lynching.