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Expert Q&A :: Exploring the Powerhouse Museum and Australian Dress Register

For our Expert Q&A on Thursday, 20 March we had Lindie Ward and Anni Turnbull from the Powerhouse Museum join us to answer your questions about the Powerhouse Museum collections, Australian Dress Register and Australian historical fashion. Thanks to Lindie and Anni for giving us the benefit of their expertise.

Please find the transcript of the Q&A and links below.

Summary of links from the Q&A:

  • Australian Dress Register: click here
  • Australian Dress Register: Timeline :: click here
  • Powerhouse Museum blog: ‘The many uses of a black dress’ :: click here
  • Powerhouse Museum collection: click here
  • Powerhouse Museum research library: click here
  • Powerhouse Museum upcoming exhibitions: click here
  • Quintessential Clothes Pen: click here
  • Quintessential Clothes Pen blog: ‘Bolero and Zouave jackets of the 19th century’ :: click here
  • The Hidden Mother by Linda Fregni Nagler : click here

Powerhouse Clothes


Transcript of Expert Q&A – Powerhouse Museum

Our Expert Q&A with the Powerhouse Museum starts in 30 minutes at 8:30pm AEDT. Join us with your questions about the Powerhouse Museum collections, Australian Dress Register and Australian historical fashion and dress.

Please ask your questions in a comment below, and Lindie or Anni will answer in a comment or reply. Questions asked before the session will be copied onto this post, so our experts can answer them in
one place.

Comment: IHM: Thanks for joining us tonight! Please join me in welcoming Lindie and Anni from the Powerhouse Museum tonight!
A. IHM: Tip :: Keep refreshing your browser to see the answers as they appear and remember to look through the entire list of comments, as Facebook will order your questions and answers out of sequence.
A. Lindie: Hi everyone – looking forward to hearing your stories!
A. Anni: Hi, it’s great to be part of this discussion about the Museum’s collections and how to access them.
A. IHM: Welcome Lindie and Anni!


Q. From Iona: Is the register searchable online? Do you have many records outside Sydney / Melbourne? Thank you!
A. Lindie: The Register is an online site that you can browse at your leisure. Garments from collections all over New South Wales are featured and now garments from other states are being added. Each garment is added by the owner or carer of the collection it is in. The garments can stay put in the collections where their stories are most relevant. The site is a virtual collection but drawing from the whole of Australia.
A. Iona: Thank you, I’m interested in Queensland so will keep an eye out.
A. Lindie: It just happens I am giving a talk at the State Library of Queensland in Brisbane on 26th March when I will be talking about the site and we will be entering garments onto the register from Queensland collections. Check the website for new entries from Queensland or you may have something of interest yourself that could be a good entry.
A. IHM: Here’s the details for Lindie’s talk at the State Library of Queensland – Introducing the Australian Dress Register to Queensland ::


Q. From Brad: What is the date range of the dresses and what different functions do they have for funerals?
A. Lindie: Garments on the register are Australian and date up until 1975. Part of the fascination of studying garments is the range of stories they tell about life and the people who wear them. Mourning dress, weddings, children’s, occupational dress are revealed and the more we enter on the register the better impression we can gain about Australian life in the past.
A. IHM: You can find more about the date range and type of garments covered here Brad ::


Q. From IHM: Hi Anni, we love the Powerhouse Museum collection! Can you run us through the strengths of the collection and its history?
A. Anni: Thanks for asking. The Museum of Applied Arts and Science (which is the name that covers all three of our sites) has a collection that was started over a 100 years ago, numbering over 380, 000 objects and covers a really broad range of areas. Many focusing on the history of creativity through a range of subjects from fashion to engineering, design to transport.Have a look here ::



Q. From Annette: This baby appears to have no arms (they are ladies gloves) and is dressed in a sort of cape. Any suggestions?! Just wondering if the baby really had no arms or has the photographer tied his arms back to keep him still! And why have they covered him with a smock? Didn’t notice the lack of arms until we projected the image on to a screen. From the same family album but no name.
A. Lindie: Annette this is an amazing photo – these have become known as ‘Hidden Mother’ photos after a book was recently published on the subject by Linda Fregni Nagler. Check out the lumps on each of the boy’s thighs. Being barely two, his mother has to hold him securely so she is the smudgy mound behind the portrait and her arms are holding his thighs and wrists through strange garment that has no back! Small children who would not separate from mum were photographed like this. It is an early photo probably from the 1850s. Any idea where this was taken?
A. Annette: The photo is from a beautiful little album belong to my husband’s great aunt, Jessie Twaddle (Twaddell). The family lived in Forbes. Only a few are named and many I have been able to date from photographers records but this one is hard. Albert Nichol & Co. is photographer.
A. IHM: Here’s the link to the Hidden Mother by Linda Fregni Nagler ::



Q. From Chris: Hi there, this is the insignia worn on the chest of a Cheer-Up Society uniform during the First World War. I am wondering if you might have a clue as to what it is (a name)? I understand that the blue stripes are for years of service but the yellow has me stumped. Any suggestions greatly appreciated.
A. Lindie: Apparently this Society was South Australian, aimed at supporting soldiers from the first and second world wars and introducing them to the ‘highest type of womanhood’. Badges from different societies were swapped. Sorry, I don’t know the name of that particular one but keep googling.
A. IHM: Here’s example of a Cheer Up Society cape at the Australian War Memorial ::



Q. From Wendy:  Hello and thanks I have two photos that have confused ID… Not sure if it’s mother and daughter or the same woman? I’m hoping the style of dress on both will help clarify if this is my Irish girl Mary Minnock or her daughter Mary Jane Grining.
A. Lindie: Thanks Wendy. These are clearly different women and dressed in clothing from the 1890s so I do not think they can be the mother and daughter. The garment on the left is very smart and dramatic – probably a wedding gown with lily of the valley spray.The sleeves are very exaggerated and this high puffed shoulder is the key to garments from the 1890s. I would say she was about 25 at the time. The girl on the right is a bit younger with quite a different nose and blonde hair and is wearing a darker garment but with the same large sleeves of the 1890s. They are taken by different photographers judging by the background. To me they do not look like sisters either but you can’t always tell.
A. Wendy: Thanks very much for your time and info.  I have been investigating your site and it is excellent!


Q. From Leane: Are puffy sleeves from the shoulder to elbow a fashion around late 1870s?
A. Lindie: Large puffs at the shoulder were in fashion in the 1890s. During the 1870s and 1880s sleeve heads were quite fitted to the shoulder. Before the 1870s the shoulder drooped downwards and had very little accentuation.


Q. From IHM: Hi Anni, what other spaces and resources can our readers access when they visit the Powerhouse Museum?
A. Anni: There is a museum archive and research library that people can access if they make an appointment ::
A. Anni: The Head On portrait prize, part of the Head On photography festival, is coming to the Museum on 17 May 2014 ::

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