Historical device from the science technology and industry collection at Queensland Museum

Science, Technology & Industry

The Science, Technology & Industry collections demonstrate the history and impact of the practical application of knowledge to accomplish tasks within commerce and industry across Queensland.


The Science, Technology and Industry collections held by Queensland Museum include machines and tools, demonstrating the techniques, processes and impact these objects have had on our daily lives.

The intersection of social history with technology stretches across our collections – from everyday technology of televisions, telephones and cameras to the technology of scientific research such as microscopes, X-ray tubes and laboratory equipment for chemical analysis. The connection of this collection to the social history of Queensland is continued in representations of different activities that are part of Queensland’s engineering, manufacturing and resource industries.

Objects held within the science, technology and industry collections range widely from the Edison Street tubes – the first electrical transmission lines used in Queensland in the 19th century – to early Queensland computers and generations of moving film camera technologies. We even boast machines for manufacturing lollies!

The Science, Technology and Industry collection complements and overlaps with the Social History and Transport collections.

Scientific study

Research into science, technology and industry elements of our collection can encompass a range of areas of study. These include the role of technology in society, changes and evolution of technologies through time, the history of labour, manufacturing and resource exploitation in Queensland-based industries, and the history of innovation in the state.


Collection highlights

Themes reflected in the objects held in this collection include Computer technology, medical technology, scientific instruments related to biological research and industrial instruments. Domestic and communications technology is well-represented. We also have larger scale objects related to industrial endeavours including energy generation and transmission, manufacturing (textiles, food and beverage manufacturing, bricks tiles and ceramics), machinery used for resource exploitation including the mining and timber industries, and beautifully crafted machinery such as printing presses.

Individual highlights from the Science, Technology and Industry collection link to the important role science and technology plays in our lives in Queensland, and how we have used technology to address challenges over the last 150 years or more:

  • equipment used in the first television broadcast in Queensland made by Thomas Elliott in 1959
  • a Traeger pedal radio used in the Royal Flying Doctor's Service
  • the prototype of the rolling loop mechanism for x-ray photography, developed in Brisbane, which enabled the rapid transport of 70mm film; and a hand-blown cathode x-ray tube from 1898
  • one of only 12 known Lumiere Cinematographes, used by the Department of Agriculture and Stock to film Queensland events by the world’s first government-funded film unit
  • a large studio glass plate camera and accessories from the Ipswich photographic studio of F A Whitehead & Sons and the Haig Photographic Studio Collection, one of the longest running studios in Queensland (1868-1984)
  • equipment from the Australian Prickly Pear Board
  • the first tractor, chaff cutter and scoop used by the Thiess Bros for contracts on the Darling Downs in the early 1920s.

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Research overview

Research may be carried out at the level of a single object or group of objects, on individual collections, or comparatively between collections and with other collections internally and externally. Object biographies sit beside considerations of how object groups speak to changing technologies and labour practices.

Investigations can focus on documenting specific elements of Queensland’s history as represented by objects, and through recording of the stories of individual people and events that speak to life in Queensland.


  • Reconstruction of the Spencer Motorcycle.
  • Investigations into how aviation has transformed Australian society over the last 100 years, focusing at Queensland Museum on the Thomas McLeod aviation collection.
  • Individual object research such as that associated with the invention of the Wally Chair.


Find out more

Did you know you don't have to come to the museum to see our collection?

Over 5,000 items of our Cultures & Histories collection are now accessible online for free. All you need is your device and a little bit of inspiration to explore Queensland’s cultural and natural heritage.

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