Talking Machines earns Museum of the Riverina second award for 2017

Published: 14 Nov 2017 9:11am

The Museum of the Riverina has snared its second major award of the year, with Talking Machines being named the best exhibition project from small and medium museums across the state.

Museum & Galleries NSW’s IMAGinE awards were presented on Friday 10 November at the Australian Museum in Sydney.

A cultural facility of Wagga Wagga City Council, the Museum of the Riverina took home the award ahead of exhibitions from Old Government House, Albury LibraryMuseum and Hurstville Museum.

The Museum of the Riverina’s ground-breaking exhibition We Are Here: Riverina LGBTIQ Stories was also shortlisted for the best exhibition category, following on from its Leo Kelly OAM Arts and Culture Award at the Local Government NSW awards in August.

Wagga Wagga City Council’s Director Community Janice Summerhayes said the award was recognition for the many people who contributed to Talking Machines, which took two years to put together.

Talking Machines captured the histories and stories of generations of Australian men and women who farmed the Riverina, transforming a harsh environment into a productive one with their ingenuity and persistence,” Ms Summerhayes said.

“A key part of Talking Machines was a film project, which fired up old machines and spoke to the people who used them right across the Riverina. There’s also a book that shares those stories and curriculum-targeted education resources for high school students.”

Council received a $150,000 Regional Partnerships grant from Create NSW for the Museum of the Riverina to partner with the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Museums & Galleries NSW, Oral History NSW, an award-winning local filmmaker, regional cultural consultants and 10 community museums across Eastern and Western Riverina.

To find out more about Talking Machines, visit or visit

Museum & Galleries NSW’s IMAGinE awards


Winner: Museum of the Riverina’s Talking Machines

Talking Machines uses film to bring a century of technological and social innovation from rural Australia to light. The project created 43 short films that focus on the machines that transformed regional Australia and capture the recollections of people who still remember using them.

A custom website delivers all the films and specially developed education resources which can be found by searching theme and region. These educational resources are an invaluable resource for high school history teachers. They comprise 43 sets of curriculum-targeted classroom notes aimed at Stage 5 History students learning about the Australian experience of the Industrial Revolution.

By focusing the films around significant machines in the Riverina region, the project intertwines social and technical histories in a fresh and appealing way. It reveals how and where technological advances occurred, and how each innovation changed the shape of rural communities.

Footage was created of old agricultural machines - now preserved by regional museums - fired up and put back to work. Archival footage, photographs and research material were added so that each story was presented in a compelling and vivid way.

The oral histories capture local stories of ingenuity and survival across the Riverina region. They also reveal how global events affected local lives in farms and country towns in regional Australia.