An item is the most granular unit of the collection available through the API currently. In general an Item is the equivalent of the object you see inside a museum showcase. An Item has a large number of descriptive data fields that explain what it is, why the museum has, as well as where possible who made, used and designed it, where and when. Not all Items have a full set of data fields.


Thesaurus provides a standard terminology for naming objects. It does not claim to provide the correct name for an object. It merely provides a name for use in museum cataloguing systems to enable accurate retrieval of information about objects.

The hierarchical structure of the thesaurus assists in searching. By organising object names, the relationships between objects can be made explicit. Object names are organised according to their hierarchical, associative or equivalence relationships. The object name thesaurus allows for more than one broader term for each object name. Any term is permitted to have multiple broader terms, for example ‘Bubble pipes’ has the broader terms of ‘Pipes’ and ‘Toys’. There is no single hierarchy in which an object name is located, enabling it to by found by searchers approaching with different concepts in mind.

All terms within the thesaurus are plural. This standard was determined when the thesaurus was first published. The thesaurus attempts to place object names within an Australian context; we therefore commonly use the Macquarie Dictionary as a general guideline when deciding on the preferred or non-preferred spelling for a term.

Terms relations:

Broader term: an object name at the next higher hierarchical level to the term in question. A broader term names a category of objects which are specifically named by narrower terms.

Narrower term: an object name at the next lower hierarchical level to the term in question. Narrower terms name objects which are types of objects named by a broader term.

Related term: an object name that is not in the hierarchy of the term in question, but is related in some way, such as by object use.

For more information go to the Powerhouse Museum Object Name Thesaurus.


To deprecated in version 2 instead of use Terms

Item Name describes what type of thing the Item is. Items may have more than one Item Name attached to them.


We have created themes about some of the objects in the collection. These themes group different objects together to illustrate some of the wide variety of topics the Museum's collection encompasses. The themes can illustrate different subjects, focus on intriguing objects, or tell forgotten stories about objects in our collection. They may be biographies of people connected with our objects, or provide detailed specialist information. They can show the relationships between objects in our collection.

Themes are one way of making sense of our vast and varied collection online. They can provide an entry point to the Museums collection. New themes are added regularly and existing ones are often updated or further developed. Related object records are accessible from these themes, and themes are accessible from individual object records.


Subjects are non-hierarchical keywords which can be associated to Items or Themes. These Subjects are added by staff when Items are catalogued and describe what the object is about. They are not the same as Tags. An example of a subject is 'Australian history', or 'Aviation ephemera'.


Provenance is information about the objects origin or use. Here people, organisations, places and/or dates are linked to Items by certain roles. These roles include things such as designer, owner, maker, user, artist, publisher, archive creator, photographer, author, printer.


Multimedia are primarily JPG thumbnails at 160x160 px resolution although may also be video files and PDFs. These are most commonly 2D photographs of Items from varying perspectives and positions. Multimedia can have captions, be attached to Themes or have rights allowing use of a 'medium' image size. Medium images will always fit within a box 370px wide and 260px high. Some with no known copyright have been added to the flickr commons and this will have a flickr_id. There is also a flag to indicate when an image is an old, low resolution black and white image.


Categories are a broader term used to describe what type of thing the Item is. These differ from subjects in that describe what an Item 'is', rather than what it might be 'about'. An example of a Category is 'Musical Instruments' or 'Ceramics'.


To deprecated in version 2 and merged with Theme

Collections are clusters of objects given to the Museum by a specific donor as a group. They often represent the work of a particular person or company such as the Hedda Morrison Photographic Collection or The Tooths & Co Brewery Collection. Other collections are the result of the personal collecting of a donor, such as the Cavill Silverware Collection, a donation from Professor Kenneth Cavill of his collection of early 20th century Australian Silverware.