Collected: about the exhibition

A family trinket holding wishbones, a designer dish rack and thought-provoking contemporary art are some of the items featured in a new exhibition of collection acquisitions.

Our collections help us to understand, reimagine and reflect on our shared and individual identity – in the past, the present and into the future. They bring new perspectives and add texture to the heritage places and their stories.

Collected: Sydney Living Museums acquisitions brings together in one exhibition an intriguing selection of objects and creative works acquired for our museums and research collections. Each new item has found its way into these collections by different and carefully considered pathways involving curatorial research and assessment to ensure that what we collect is of enduring significance to the story of NSW. Some have been generously funded or gifted by donors and benefactors, some of whom are descendants of people who lived in places now under SLM’s care; others were purchased or specially commissioned to add new layers of meaning and understanding to our existing histories.

A rich tapestry

The exhibition showcases both the vernacular and the spectacular with an eclectic display of items, from the colonial to the contemporary. Through these items we discover a diversity of voices and views, from people across a range of social classes, generations and geographic regions, as well as perspectives from queer communities and First Nations people. Power and memory weave through Kamilaroi/Gamilaraay artist Dennis Golding’s work Cast in cast out, which explores dispossession and colonial occupation and is inspired by his childhood on The Block, Redfern. Artist Todd Fuller’s hand-drawn animation honours the love story of the notorious Captain Moonlite and fellow bushranger James Nesbitt.

A surprisingly elegant cistern pull-chain from a now-demolished early-1900s home in Paddington suggests a sense of refinement in the most functional of household spaces, while a late-19th-century silver tea and coffee service engraved with the Wentworth family crest indicates the importance of heraldry associated with the colonial history of Vaucluse House. It stands in stark contrast to an assortment of pocket-sized ornaments collected by Ellen Marshall – who lived for 28 years at Susannah Place in The Rocks – expressing the personal taste and interests of her family. Striking curtains and soft-furnishing fabrics from the 1940s by Russell Drysdale, George Korody and Nance Mackenzie demonstrate the interest in Australian flora, fauna and landscapes as themes for home decorating by artists and designers in the mid-20th century.

Collected illustrates the breadth of SLM’s dynamic acquisitions program. Each collection piece adds to the rich tapestry that is the story of Sydney and NSW.

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Dr Jacqui Newling

Dr Jacqui Newling


Jacqui is a passionate public historian, her curatorial practice shaped by a hungry mind. Jacqui has a PhD in History and a Le Cordon Bleu Master’s Degree in Gastronomy. Interrogating and interpreting history, place, and social culture through a gastronomic lens, she is a leading voice in Australian food culture and identity in settler-colonial contexts, past and present. Her doctoral thesis examines the role of food and food insecurity in the founding of colonial NSW. Jacqui is author of the award-winning book Eat Your History: stories and recipes from Australian kitchens, 1788-1950. She co-curated the Eat Your History: A Shared Table exhibition at the Museum of Sydney, and is the ‘Cook’ in the blog, The Cook and the Curator. Jacqui curated a series of ‘hands-on’ gastronomy programs in our house museums and in the Villages of the Heart partnership in regional NSW. Jacqui’s curatorial expertise also extends beyond the kitchen – she curated the End of Transportation digital exhibit at the Hyde Park Barracks, the Collected exhibition and Enchanted valley digital interactive at Museum of Sydney and was a co-curator in the Unrealised Sydney and History Reflected exhibitions

Painting of rectangular modernist house with white ramp on righthand side in bushland setting.
Past exhibition

Collected: Sydney Living Museums acquisitions

We seek to tell diverse stories about Australia’s past, from a broad range of voices and perspectives, through the 12 museums and heritage sites, and rich and varied collections in its care

Digital scan of sculptural panel

Cast in cast out: recasting fragments of memory

An in-depth look at Dennis Golding's experiences and childhood memories of growing up in ‘The Block’