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Rare Australian historical and decorative arts treasures

Highlights from the internationally renowned collection are set to go on show at the Museum in 2021.

Stunning artworks, furniture, jewellery and ceramics which explore Australia’s history, culture and identity feature in the Trevor Kennedy collection.

The National Museum acquired more than 5000 objects from Mr Kennedy in 2020, by purchase and donation. It is the Museum's most significant acquisition to date.

Trevor Kennedy collection 2:02

Trevor Kennedy, 2020:

I’m pleased that my collection has finally found a new home at the National Museum of Australia and that such a large portion of my collection can largely stay together, retaining its character and integrity.

My hope is that these treasures will be seen and appreciated by generations of Australians across the country, giving them the opportunity to explore and better understand our nation’s remarkable history, the quality and traditions of Australian craftsmanship and design and through this the character unique to this nation.

Slideshow

Yawning koala lidded jar, John Castle-Harris, about 1940, slip cast, hand-finished and glazed earthenware. National Museum of Australia

‘The Sydney Cup’, by William Kerr, 1885, mounted emu egg, presented by the Sydney Bicycle Club to the Surrey Bicycle Club, England. National Museum of Australia

Diamond and platinum brooch given by Charles Kingsford Smith to his wife, Mary, in 1932 to commemorate his flight across the Pacific. National Museum of Australia

Gold openwork brooch featuring an emu and kangaroo with detachable vine leaf pendant set with a natural pearl. National Museum of Australia

1869 Sydney Cup made by CL Quist, won by Australian racehorse The Barb. National Museum of Australia

Silver centrepiece made by J Henry Steiner for the Melbourne International Exhibition, 1880. National Museum of Australia

Grand longcase clock by James Oatley, about 1827. Oatley was transported to Australia in 1815. He was employed as the keeper of the Town Clock. Pardoned in 1821 he established his business in George Street, Sydney. National Museum of Australia

Miniature portrait of John White, Surgeon-General to the First Fleet and Colony of New South Wales by the convict artist Thomas Watling. National Museum of Australia

Kookaburra fan, early 1900s. National Museum of Australia

Slideshow

Brooch, Priora Brothers, made in Sydney around 1900, oval gold set with a plaque of Boulder opal depicting a lake fishing scene. National Museum of Australia

Gold openwork bracelet with seven panels, about 1855. Each panel depicts an Australian motif (from left), waratah, flannel flower, lyrebird, banksia, emu, fern and native pear. National Museum of Australia

Slip cast ceramic ashtrays moulded as surfers riding waves, Wembley Ware, 1950s. National Museum of Australia

Hand-painted Royal Worcester porcelain made for Australian retailer Flavelle Brothers, with acid ‘quaker grey’ border and embossed kookaburra. National Museum of Australia

Writing desk incorporating 18 different timbers, made by HW Broughton in Melbourne in 1851. National Museum of Australia

Dhufish lustreware vases, Wembley Ware. National Museum of Australia

'Cooee' 15-carat serpent brooch with pearls and turquoise. National Museum of Australia

Labrador retriever (left) and kelpie ceramic doorstops, McHugh, Tasmania. National Museum of Australia

William Moorcroft flambe waratah exhibition vase, 1939 (centre), and Moorcroft 'Banksia' vases designed by Sally Tuffin, about 1987. National Museum of Australia

Silver dog collar by Alexander Dick, made for publican Michael Farrell and presented to his dog ‘Tiger' for killing 20 rats in 2 minutes and 2 seconds, Sydney 1834. National Museum of Australia

Dr Mathew Trinca, Director, National Museum of Australia:

The combination of this acquisition and donation made by Mr Kennedy will become a cornerstone of the National Historical Collection and a rich new resource for Australians to explore and interpret our nation’s history.

The Museum worked with Mr Kennedy for two years to identify key objects for purchase. The Museum continues to research, document and digitise the collection.

Trevor Kennedy sitting on a chair next to a longcase clock. - click to view larger image
Trevor Kennedy with a rare 1922 Robert Prenzel longcase clock

Trevor Kennedy amassed a unique collection of Australiana over 40 years. A media executive and journalist, he edited publications including The Bulletin.

Mr Kennedy’s collection was kept in a private museum in The Rocks. In 2005 it was strengthened when Mr Kennedy purchased the Ruth Simon collection of Australian decorative arts.

In addition to the objects pictured above, other highlights of the Kennedy collection include:

  • two occasional tables made for naturalist John Gould
  • a ceremonial gold trowel used by Prime Minister Andrew Fisher
  • Lionel Rose’s 1968 World Championship Bantam Weight Boxing Trophy
  • more than 50 mounted eggs
  • ceramics from Royal Doulton, Meissen, Grimwades and Staffordshire
  • scrimshaw, taxidermy and other natural history items.
Trevor Kennedy's grand display room in The Rocks
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