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March 6, 2013

It was a year when Australia, a new nation, embraced the modern world: aeroplanes, pocket cameras, roller-skates and cinemas. It was the year of Dally Messenger’s final premiership and Mawson’s fateful Antarctic exhibition. Sports-lovers cheered the exploits of Fanny Durack and Victor Trumper, while the nation was entertained by Dame Nellie Melba on the gramophone and bushrangers at the movies. Australians still looked forward to a bright future, unaware of the looming Great War. And many cheers greeted Lady Denman as she revealed the name of the new Federal Capital: ‘Canberra’.

The National Museum of Australia will celebrate the Centenary of Canberra in Glorious Days: Australia 1913, a major new exhibition that takes us back to the Australia of 100 years ago, with its prevailing sense of optimism and excitement. The exhibition will be structured around a busy roadway, with a Delaunay Belleville Tourer, a Model T Ford and an Abbott Double Buggy — all authentic vehicles from the time.

'In 1913, Australia was in many ways a progressive society. Australians were strongly tied to the British Empire, yet self-confident about an Australian way of life. This exhibition immerses the visitor in the rich tapestry of national life on the eve of the Great War,' said Andrew Sayers, director of the National Museum of Australia.

Mingling with the crowds of 1913, visitors will witness the fads, the events and the personalities of the year. They will see an exploration of the many nation-building moments of 1913 — not just the inauguration of Canberra, but also the building of the Trans-Australian Railway, the printing of our first bank notes and postage stamps, and the ongoing tensions between the states. The exhibition also looks at the lives and cultures of Aboriginal Australians, including a series of powerful bark paintings from Arnhem Land.

Naturally, the arts will also be represented through the movies (Australia was one of the world’s top filmmaking nations in 1913), and the sounds and images of local and visiting performers who enlivened the nation’s music, dance and theatre scenes.

Glorious Days: Australia 1913 will be at the National Museum of Australia until October 13.

For interviews, images and more information, please contact Tracy Sutherland, 02.6208 5338 or 0438 620710, or

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