Hadnutt, N. T. 2020. Engines of Destruction: biographies of a museum’s war trophies. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum – Culture 11: 7–24. https://doi.org/10.17082/j.2205-3126.96.36.1990.2020-02
Queensland Museum, cultural biography, war trophies, Mephisto, commemoration, museology, mortar, machine gun, First World War
When the First World War commenced in 1914, Queensland Museum was 52 years old. A recognised cultural and scientific leader within the Queensland community, the Museum was supported by the State Government with a mandate to exhibit and research the State’s cultural and natural heritage. At the conclusion of the Great War, Queensland Museum records demonstrate that it was the recipient of four First World War trophies collected under the auspices of the Australian War Records Section. These trophies were initially displayed prominently at the Queensland Museum, however, they fell from favour and were later relocated. With the advent of the centenary of the First World War, these trophies are once again attracting attention through display and research. This paper explores cultural biographies of these weapons and aligns the treatment of these trophies with changing public attitudes to war commemoration thereby considering the role of the Museum in reflecting those attitudes.