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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia

National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia

National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia

The National Portrait Gallery in Australia is a collection of portraits of Australians that are prominent in the history of Australia and whose life sets them apart as individuals of long-term public interest.

Highlights the National Portrait Gallery

A tour of the National Portrait Gallery

  • Marianne Egan and her children, Gertrude Evans Cahuac and Henry William Cahuac
    • Marianne Egan and her children, Gertrude Evans Cahuac and Henry William Cahuac were 38, 18 and 20 years old when they died in one of Australia’s worst maritime disasters.

      Marianne (1818–1857) was born in Sydney, the daughter of ex-convicts. Her mother, Jane, was transported for theft in 1814. Her father, Richard, was a convict transported to New South Wales aboard the ship, which struck an iceberg in the Southern Ocean while on route to Sydney in 1789. Richard was among the convicts who assisted in keeping the ship afloat until it could reach Sydney in 1790. Richard was rewarded with land and a pardon for his role in ensuring the ship’s safe arrival.

  • Ned Kelly – Death Mask
    • This is the death mask of Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly (1855–1880) who was a bushranger of Irish descent and is an Australian folk hero. In the 1800’s it was common practice for authorities to allow the making of a plaster ‘death mask’ of an executed criminal, to conduct a phrenological analysis. The masks were often put on public display and Ned Kelly’s death mask was an object of significant public interest in the late 1800s.

      Kelly was born in the colony of Victoria as the third of eight children to an Irish convict and an Australian mother with Irish parentage. His father died after serving a six-month prison sentence, leaving Kelly, aged 12, as the eldest male of the household. The Kelly’s were poor and saw themselves as downtrodden and as victims of police persecution. Kelly was convicted of stealing horses and imprisoned for three years in 1870. After his release, he was indicted for the attempted murder of a police officer at his family’s home. After fleeing into the bush, he and his gang killed three policemen and they were all proclaimed outlaws.

  • Bedgi-Bedgi
    • This is a color print of a half-figure portrait of Bedgi-Bedgi (c.1789-c.1837), a young Aboriginal man, drawn in 1802. Bedgi-Bedgi is shown with a pattern of scars on his body and is wearing a long necklace wrapped around his neck. The body scars were formed deliberately. Both Tasmanian and mainland Indigenous peoples made cuts on their skin, usually with broken pieces of shell, that were purposely kept open until flesh grew up between the two sides, then skinned over, leaving the raised scars. The scars were made in patterns on the chest, back, arms and shoulders.

      Bedgi-Bedgi was a leader of the Burramattagal clan of the Dharug people. He joined a number of sealing and whaling voyages to the Bass Strait in the early 1800s. He also acted as a tracker in an 1816 expedition aimed as suppressing aboriginal attacks against settlers in north-west Sydney. In 1816, Governor Macquarie granted him a king-plate declaring him ‘chief of the Kissing Point tribe’,

  • Trucaninny, wife of Woureddy
    • Trucaninny (c. 1812–1876) wife of Woureddy, is one of nineteenth-century Australia’s most celebrated Indigenous leaders. There are a number of other spellings of her name, including Trugernanner, Trugernena, Truganina, Trugannini, Trucanini, Trucaminni, and Trucaninny. Trukanini was erroneously referred to during her lifetime and afterward as the ‘last Tasmanian’, a false belief as shown by the many descendants of her contemporaries still living in Tasmania today.

      Trucaninny at an early age, lost her mother, sister and intended husband, all as a result of white violence. Believing that she could better protect her people, Trukanini joined George Augustus Robinson, a settler and lay preacher appointed to lead the removal of Tasmania’s Indigenous people to a mission on Flinders Island in the Bass Strait. This strategy was conceived by the government for the proposed protection of the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

  • Woureddy, an Aboriginal Chief of Van Diemen’s Land
    • Woureddy was a Nuennone man from Bruny Island and his wife was Trucaninny. There are a number of other spellings of his name, including Woorrady. He was a skilled hunter, boat builder and spoke five dialects. Woureddy remained fiercely proud of his identity, refusing to adopt the European diet or dress. He maintained the practice of using ochre for his hair and beard.

      Believing that she could better protect her people, Trukanini joined George Augustus Robinson, a settler and lay preacher appointed to lead the removal of Tasmania’s Indigenous people to a mission on Flinders Island in the Bass Strait. This strategy was conceived by the government for the proposed protection of the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal communities.

  • Portrait of Captain James Cook RN
    • Captain James Cook RN (1728 – 1779) was a British explorer, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy (RN). Cook made three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he was the first European to chart the eastern coastline of Australia, the Hawaiian Islands and to circumnavigate of New Zealand. Cook’s voyages provided Europeans with their first glimpse of the native peoples, culture, wildlife, and geography of many newly discovered lands such as Tahiti, Alaska, Hawaii, New Zealand and Australia.

      Cook joined the Royal Navy in 1755 and came to public attention when he was commissioned in 1766 as commander of HM Bark Endeavour for the first of three Pacific voyages. During these voyages, Cook sailed thousands of miles across mostly uncharted seas. He mapped many lands across the Pacific Ocean in historical detail and scale. Cook surveyed and named features, and recorded islands and coastlines on European maps that for the first time shed light on the blank parts our global atlas. Cook took possession of the entire east coast of Australia, which he named New South Wales, in the name of His Majesty, King George the Third.

National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, Australia

  • Name:                       National Portrait Gallery
  • Former name:           National Library of Australia, Old Parliament House
  • Established:              1998
  • Location:                   King Edward Terrace, Parkes, Australian Capital Territory
  • Type:                         Portrait gallery
  • City:                          Canberra

Tour of Australian Museums:

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“A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.”
– Australian Proverb

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Photo Credit: GM

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