You are in site section: History & ideas

Nicole McLennan

Nicole McLennan, Curator

Not all horse play

By Nicole McLennan
04 Feb 2014
Nowadays when you talk about a ‘work horse’, you are probably referring to a ute, truck or some other form...

Continue reading Not all horse play

About Nicole

Portrait of Nicole McLennan
Nicole McLennan. Photo: Jason McCarthy.

In 1999, I joined the National Museum of Australia as one of a team of curators developing the Horizons gallery for the Museum's opening day exhibitions in Canberra.

Since then I have worked in a range of cultural institutions in Australia and in the United Kingdom. My role has frequently entailed working with local communities to engage with, record, preserve and exhibit their histories.

I returned to the National Museum of Australia in 2012 to work on a temporary exhibition project about the history of the horse in Australia.


Tel +61 2 6208 5311 (Monday)

Educational qualifications

Doctor of Philosophy (History), Australian National University, Research School of Social Sciences, (Thesis: 'From home & kindred': English emigration to Australia, 1860-1900), 1998.

Master of Cultural Heritage (Museums), Deakin University, Victoria, 2004.

Bachelor of Arts (Hons), La Trobe University, Victoria, 1992.

Current project

Spirited: Australia's Horse Story, National Museum temporary exhibition on the history of horses and humans in Australia, 11 September 2014 – 9 March 2015. Role: curator.


Home Away From Home: London's Irish County Associations, Temporary exhibition staged at City Hall, London and the London Irish Centre, Camden (UK), 2011. Role: curator and project manager.

Women of a 'High Lean Country', Travelling exhibition curated with five museums in the New England region and staged in Gunnedah, Tamworth, Narrabri, Inverell and Glen Innes, 2007. Role: curator and project manager.

Pens and Presses: Education and Print in Nineteenth Century New England, joint temporary exhibition with the Museum of Printing at the New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale, 2003. Role: co-curator and project manager.

Horizons: The Peopling of Australia since 1788 gallery at the National Museum of Australia, 1999-2001. Role: co-curator, content development, program management and delivery.

Online features

James Taylor's Light Horse uniform collection highlight, 2014

Newcastle bakery cart collection highlight, 2014

Quail's saddlery collection highlight, 2014

Willsallen sulky collection highlight, 2014, with Megan Parnell

Australian Sketchbook collection highlight, 2014, with Martha Sear


Unlocking Regional Memory. Archival project jointly conducted between the archives at the University of Wollongong, Newcastle and New England, 2002. Role: content development of New England material.

Select publications

Contributor, Spirited: Australia’s Horse Story, National Museum of Australia Press, 2014.

‘Eric Dunlop and the origins of Australia’s folk museums’, in reCollections: a journal of museums and collections, vol. 1, no. 2, September 2006, pp. 130-51.

‘Collecting and Presenting the Past’, in Alan Atkinson, JS Ryan, Iain Davidson & Andrew Piper (eds), High Lean Country: Land People and Memory in New England, Allen & Unwin. Sydney, 2006, pp. 263-75 (co-author with Alan Atkinson, Bill Oates and Andrew Piper).

‘Henry Van de Velde’, in Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 16, MUP, Carlton, 2002, pp. 435-6.

‘Christopher James Perrett’, in Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 15, MUP, Carlton, 2000, pp. 593-4.

‘Glimpses of Unassisted English Women Arriving in Victoria, 1860-1900’, in Eric Richards (ed.), Visible Women; Female Immigrants in Colonial Australia, vol. 4, Australian National University, Canberra, 1995, pp. 59-84.