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The Museum reopens on 29 Oct 21. See Plan your visit

One of the most exciting parts of visiting a museum is the feeling of wonder when you encounter a new or significant object and learn about its story. For many of our younger visitors, some of the most interesting objects come from the not too distant past.

Imagine that you had grown up only using smartphones – you might be shocked to learn that people in the past had to spin a dial for each individual number before making a call. Or that you had to remember the number off by heart!

Brown wooden wall telephone with a black plastic handset, a wooden peg and a silver metal dial with numbers and letters. The centre of the dial has

Wall telephone, 1936

Video stories

Throughout the National Museum of Australia’s new galleries we have taken a fresh approach to displaying information. Our goal is to make learning about objects’ stories as engaging as possible, while being accessible to everyone. Video content is a great way to achieve this.

In the Discovery Centre this video will help young visitors realise that learning about history can be fun, while also providing more information about some interesting objects.

We also had a lot of fun making it! We were very lucky to be joined by Alec, Amelia, Dylan, Eleanor, James, Joey and Sierra. Each of the children had fantastic insights into the objects that they were shown, and we can’t wait for you to see their responses when you visit the Discovery Centre next year.

In the meantime, if you have a young historian at home who might be interested in learning about objects from the past, why not show them this one and see what they think it does? Here’s a hint: it wasn’t used for people!

A mechanical shearing handpiece made of metal, with a brown leather hand-grip, a moveable arm at one end, and a detachable metal comb at the other. The handpiece is engraved at the side with 'PRESENTED TO / JACK HOWE / WOLSELEY S.S.M.Co. / January 1893'. The leather hand-grip is laced with a brown leather thong.

Can you guess what this is? Find out more

In our collection

AWA Radiolette mantel radioOpen backed, rounded brown bakelite AWA Radiolette mantel radio with round station selector. Selector panel has a yellow background with white, blue, red and yellow printing and is covered by glass. Two tuning knobs are below. There is a broken and flaking electric cord emanating from the rear.
On display
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