Shaping Tasmania 100th object revealed

After a month-long online search, the 100th object to complete the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery’s (TMAG) Shaping Tasmania trail has now been chosen.

Hobart woman Maggie Aird’s suggestion of a Gladstone bag, once used by her father as a work bag, was selected as the final object that has helped shape our state.

In her nomination, she explained that her father worked as a fitter and turner at Hobart’s Zinc Works, and carried the bag to work every day.

“For as long as I can remember (as a child) it sat open on the floor just inside the back door from when he walked in at night until my mother closed it in the morning, once she had made his lunch and placed it carefully in the bag,” Ms Aird wrote when nominating the object.

“If it was closed, we were not allowed to open it as it might contain a surprise, and if it was ever there during a week day, then he was ill, or perhaps on holiday!”


TMAG’s Visitor Experience Manager Andy Baird, Senior Curator of Decorative Arts Peter Hughes and Senior Curator of Cultural Heritage Elspeth Wishart assessed the objects contributed by members of the public via the ABC’s Shaping Tasmania website.

Mr Baird said the choice was a difficult one, but in the end the bag stood out.

“This object provides an ideal insight into the stories of the working man of Tasmania, and as Ms Aird said in her nomination, a whole generation of blue collar workers carried these bags,” Mr Baird said.

“Hobart’s Zinc Works has been a major industry since it commenced commercial production in 1921 and its operations have had a state-wide impact, including some serious environmental impacts in its early years.

“Thousands of workers have been employed by the Zinc Works over the past 90 years with whole suburbs of workers flourishing nearby.

“Ms Aird’s reflections on the social experience of her father leaving the bag out for her mother to fill with his lunch will have a resonance for many visitors to TMAG, and suit the criteria of Shaping Tasmania particularly well.

“The stories that have shaped Tasmania are the everyday stories.

“Many of the nominated objects could have been selected, and the public’s contributions through the ABC website and directly to the museum have shown the wealth of stories wrapped up in many objects located all around the state.”

TMAG Director Bill Bleathman said that it was wonderful to see members of the public upload such a wide variety of items to the ABC’s website as nominations for the 100th object.

“From model boats to old sledgehammers, and historic coins to apple box labels, all the suggested items were chosen with care by their nominators,” Mr Bleathman said.

“I’d like to thank ABC 936 Hobart and ABC Northern Tasmania for their support of the Shaping Tasmania project, and for encouraging Tasmanians to share their precious objects online.

“Visitors to TMAG will be able to see the Gladstone bag alongside the 99 other objects our curators have chosen when the museum reopens next week.”

The bag will now be handled by TMAG’s conservators and prepared to go on display in time for the museum’s grand reopening on Friday, 15 March.

The 99 objects already chosen can be viewed online at

Image: Courtesy of Maggie Aird.