5 minutes with Dr Geraldine Mate

Today’s #CouchCurator is Acting Head, Cultures and Histories program, Dr Geraldine Mate who is sharing some of her favourite items from the Collection.

I get to look after Queensland’s cultural history – it’s quite a privilege. And one of the things I love, as time goes by the intertangling of skeins, how one thread will connect to another, across collections and across object types – a photo connects with a person connects with a camera connects with a basket connects with a particular place…

What is your favourite object in the Collection?

That’s like asking me to pick a favourite child! But my current favourite object is probably the Mason Clock (H8453) which is an amazing piece of furniture, created by John Mason in Maryborough around 1930. The clock housing has over 20 Queensland timbers included, all sourced from the Wide Bay region, and it is a beautifully executed piece of cabinet making. John Mason learned his early skills from an uncle who migrated to Australia in the mid-nineteenth century, and went on take up an apprenticeship in cabinet making. In turn John Mason taught at the Maryborough technical college and showed his furniture at exhibitions in Queensland. Peter Volk was telling me the other day he used to wind it once a week, and it would chime regularly in the Discovery Centre. I love the idea of this object that represents multiple generations of artistry, features beautiful timbers from Queensland and as an object had a new life within the museum.

H8453 Longcase Clock

Do you have any interesting facts?

I think all things that are mined in Queensland are quite interesting and have a great story. Although tin, copper and gold are always identified with mining in Queensland, there are lots of other minerals mined such as arsenic, bauxite (aluminium), bismuth, cinnabar (mercury), lead, magnesium, molybdenum, nickel, phosphorous, rutile (titanium), silver, uranium, wolfram (tungsten) and zinc. Also coal, oil and gas, from shale oil to fracking natural gases abound and deposits of gemstones including rubies, emeralds, sapphires, topaz and garnets (all linked to place names in Queensland coincidentally) and opal are also mined here. Even Lady Elliot Island was mined for Phosphate with a metre of topsoil and guano (bird poo) and almost all the trees removed.

What’s one of the biggest items in the Collection?

The heaviest is probably the 444 locomotive at The Workshops Rail Museum.

What’s one of the smallest items in the Collection?

The smallest is harder for Cultures and Histories – maybe the cutest small things are the Netsuke in the Anthropology collection.

What’s one of the largest items in the Collection?

We must have close to the largest collection of model trains in the southern hemisphere in the T House collection.

R7120 - A
Model – Southern Pacific F7 Diesel Locomotive. A Gauge 1 twin unit diesel locomotive model painted black with silver, orange and red trims.

What’s one of the rarest items in the Collection?

Rarest is obviously Mephisto – the only remaining German WW1 tank in the world and one of only 20 ever made.

What’s one of the weirdest items in the Collection?

This one is a hard one – I would have to say maybe a Boggo Rd Bible?

What’s some of the most common items in the Collection?

Surprisingly some of the most common items in the Collection could be either false teeth or irons or blacksmithing tools.