Roslyn Russell, Kylie Winkworth
© Commonwealth of Australia, 2010
ISBN 97 80977544363 (pbk)
Context and in situ collections
Context is central to the meaning and significance of in situ collections. Keeping items in their place of use, and understanding their context within it, and also in relation to wider social and historical movements and events, broadens understanding of their significance. Collections that survive intact in their place of use and context are of particular significance. Individual items that are still in situ may be a reference point for the research and assessment of similar unprovenanced items.
The radio in the Chifley Home, while interesting for its association with Ben and Elizabeth Chifley, would lose much of its significance as part of the in situ collection on display in their former home if it were to be removed from its physical and historical context.
The Chifley Home, Busby Street, Bathurst, NSW
Photo: Roslyn Russell
Reproduced courtesy of Bathurst Regional Council
Joseph Benedict ('Ben') Chifley, Labor Prime Minister of Australia from 1945 to 1949, and his wife Elizabeth lived in a modest home in Bathurst, NSW, for all their married life. Ben Chifley was often absent for long periods in Canberra, so Mrs Chifley had wirelesses set up in several rooms so that she could hear her husband speaking in Canberra during parliamentary sessions or when he addressed the nation. This wireless, along with the other contents of the house, has a strong provenance to one of Australia's best loved prime ministers and his wife. The wirelesses in the Chifley Home demonstrate the importance of radio for keeping in touch with the outside world. They attest to the increasing use of wireless by prime ministers to communicate directly with Australians in their homes during the Second World War and its immediate aftermath. Both the physical context in which the radio is to be found and the broader historical context are key elements in its significance.
This 'Airzone' wireless radio is kept in situ in the sitting room of the Chifley Home in Bathurst, NSW
Reproduced courtesy of the Chifley Home, Bathurst Regional Council