Rich Pickings

Selected works from the WAG Museum Collection
Date: 
Saturday, 11 May 2019 to Sunday, 16 June 2019

In 1886, Joseph Archibald, a retired police inspector, established the Warrnambool Museum and Art Gallery. Archibald’s eclectic mix of original artworks, reproductions and museum curios were housed in a building behind what was then the Mechanics Institute, in Liebig Street. The Collection includes an array of diverse artefacts including a Polynesian pineapple club made of carved stone, a Zulu girdle and Knobkerrie club, Fijian fish hooks made from mother of pearl and tortoise shell, a small circular box supposedly carved from the coffin of William the Conqueror’s daughter, an early 20th century cigarette tin containing Egyptian mummy wrapping, and Chinese silk lotus shoes fitted for women with bound feet from the Qing Dynasty. Many artefacts are from Archibald’s initial collection, while others were randomly acquired such as Joseph Dalimore’s ‘bits and bobs’ souvenired during the Boer War c1900, and Joseph Jordan’s donation of a sandal thrown at him by a mutineer in the 1857 Indian Siege of Lucknow. This is a great chance to tour the Collection at the time of a Gallery audit to examine, document and record each object. In 1886, Joseph Archibald, a retired police inspector, established the Warrnambool Museum and Art Gallery. Archibald’s eclectic mix of original artworks, reproductions and museum curios were housed in a building behind the Mechanics Institute in Liebig Street. The museum collection has grown over the years since it began and in 2019, WAG is delighted to present this this unique exhibition of objects from the WAG Museum Collection.

The WAG Museum Collection

The Collection includes an array of diverse artefacts including: a Polynesian pineapple club made of carved stone, a Zulu girdle and Knobkerrie club, Fijian fish hooks made from mother of pearl and tortoise shell, a small circular box carved from the coffin of William the Conqueror’s daughter, an early 20th century cigarette tin containing Egyptian mummy wrapping, and Chinese silk lotus shoes fitted for women with bound feet from the Qing Dynasty. Many artefacts of this kind are from Archibald’s initial collection, some without provenance. Other curios were randomly collected and subsequently donated such as Joseph Dalimore’s ‘bits and bobs from the Boers’ or Joseph Jordan’s donation of a sandal thrown at him by a mutineer in the 1857 Indian Siege of Lucknow.

Another notable local artefact is from visionary Doctor Isabella Younger Ross OBE, born in Warrnambool in 1887, who was founder of the Baby Health Centre Movement in Victoria. WAG holds a medicine vial and associated letters between Dr Ross and a Dr. Koch of Germany. The letters state that the serum enclosed in this vial was to be used in the treatment of consumption. Some of the most powerful items in the Collection are Victorian Aboriginal artefacts relating to maternity, including one of the most highly charged — a ‘magic stone’ which was held by women during labour. The stone is small enough to fit in the hand and smoothed like a polished stone in a river, with a deeply impressed thumb print made by many women over many years. Other items include tobacco used in pain relief, a smooth river rock which was heated in hot coals and wrapped in possum skin to warm for comfort, a woven disc used as a harness for carrying infants and a carved bark crib.

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Public program(s):
Saturday 18 May: Heritage Conservation Roadshow with the Grimwade Centre

Image credit: Minton Heron c. 1880 majolica (coloured tin glaze) Designed by Paul COMOLERA b.1818 Paris, France, d.1897 Marks: P.Comolera/1880/ triangular cypher with a vertical dash (Minton Museum stamp)/1917 Purchased with the assistance of the G.M. and E.J. Jones Foundation, A.L. Lane Foundation, Ray and Joyce Uebergang Foundation, Warrnambool City Council and Les and Elizabeth O’Callaghan.