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The Women’s and Children’s Health Network acknowledges Aboriginal people as the First Peoples and Traditional Custodians of Country throughout South Australia. We acknowledge and respect their ongoing and deep spiritual connection and relationship to land, air, sea, waters, community and country. We pay our respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that this website may contain images, voices and names of people who have passed away.

WCHN History and Heritage Exhibitions and Projects

Floral procession at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital’s annual lawn fete, 29 November 1897

The WCHN History and Heritage Group works on a number of projects to explore and interpret the Network’s history, and share it with others.

The Group researches and curates exhibitions and displays around the Hospital site about the WCHN's history, using objects and archival material from the History and Heritage Collection. Members of the group also write occasional articles about historical artefacts or the stories behind the displays, and sometimes collect relevant oral histories.

The Group currently focuses on producing history displays in two main areas of the North Adelaide campus of the Women's and Children's Hospital:

1. The History Box

Showcasing object displays, this glass cabinet is located in the foyer outside the Queen Victoria Lecture Theatre on Level 1, Zone F.

2. The Yellow Heart Gallery

For more information about the Gallery and to find out about the latest exhibition, go to:

Located on Level 1 of Zone F near the Parent Education area, The Yellow Heart Gallery was opened in May 2018 as a new addition to the four existing galleries around the Hospital run by the Women's & Children's Hospital Foundation.

It provides a platform to share the WCHN History and Heritage Collection with the Hospital community and explore the significant people and events that shaped the Hospital today.

The Yellow Heart Gallery's inaugural exhibition (May–July 2018) was Forgotten Murals of the Adelaide Children's Hospital (see below).

The Sensing World (current)

The Sensing World exhibition tunes into the public sensing world of the public hospital, and the private sensing world of the body. It surveys the bodily senses through historical photographs of hospital scenarios and lyrics from retro pop songs. The exhibition ponders pain and proprioception, and the curious art of medical percussion. It demonstrates the value of a multisensory practice of medicine for examining and treating the multisensory body.

Sensing World – Exhibition image

– Percussion hammer testing a boy’s knee-jerk reflex, Adelaide Children’s Hospital, 6 June 1976

Forgotten Murals II: Art Casualty of Built History (May 2021 – September 2021)

Following on from Forgotten Murals of the Adelaide Children’s Hospital (2018), this exhibition tells the story of another significant art casualty of built history to emerge from the Women’s and Children’s Hospital archives. Designed by former Woods Bagot architect Reginald Steele and cast in concrete for the General Purposes Building of the old Children’s Hospital, this Modernist mural relief attracted mild public disapproval upon completion in 1962. With appreciation among Adelaideans for local Modernist design at a retrospective high, Forgotten Murals II reappraises Steele’s artwork – an intriguing Arts in Health offering for the Hospital’s patients and maintenance workers.

This exhibition is part of South Australia’s History Festival 2021. To visit the exhibition online, go to:

Forgotten Murals II – Art Casualty of Built History – Exhibition image

– General Purposes Building with mural sculpture by Reginald Steele, 1976

The Theatre of Theatre (November 2020 – April 2021)

This exhibition was a light-hearted play on the serious theatre of surgery. Featuring a colourful (and black-and-white) cast of Hospital staff, child play-actors and eccentric surgical tools, it dramatised the conduct and culture of operations. The Theatre of Theatre stood as an endearing ovation in honour of our surgeons, past and present. It also applauded the powerful role that the performing arts – indeed all the arts – play in this Hospital.

Theatre of Theatre – Exhibition image

– Detail of Adelaide Children’s Hospital surgical instruments, 1986

The Hospital and the Machine (July – November 2020)

The Hospital and The Machine exhibition was a static procession of Machines once in the service of our Hospital. It zoomed in on the histories and workings of manifold inventions and contraptions: the manual, the motorised and the electronic. Whirring and clicking, the exhibition took the audience on a spin around the 1950s to 1980s, winding up as the Hospital revolutionised its systems to engage with the Computer Age.

Hospital and the Machine – Exhibition image

– GE 8800 CT Scanner Control Panel, Adelaide Children’s Hospital, c1985

A Blooming Career (February – June 2020)

This exhibition illuminated the career of Geraldine Kaminski, O.A.M. (1918–1985), one of the most eminent scientists in the history of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital. Hers was a blooming career. It was distinguished by award. And it was focused on an unusual field of blooms: fungal blooms. A scientist of medical mycology, Kaminski was Australia’s ‘First Lady of Fungi’. This exhibition not only put Kaminski’s career under the microscope, but the pathogenic fungi she investigated. Posing in portraits, the fungi innocently blossom, like unexpected flowers.

Geraldine Kaminski was as famed for her fabulous personality as her scientific prowess. To find out more, read the story written by her niece Anne Monk – Gerry: the personal behind the professional.

Blooming Career – Exhibition image

– Scanning electron microscope image of Rhizopus microspores

Breath Lab (November 2019 – February 2020)

Breath Lab is an installation of works by Tamara Baillie, which she created as the first Artist in Residence with the WCHN History and Heritage Collection. Her work was supported by the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Foundation, and assisted by the WCHN’s Museum Curator. Tamara’s dual identity as a medical professional and a visual artist made her the ideal fit for inaugural Artist in Residence for the History and Heritage Collection, which holds artefacts significant to the history of child, youth and women’s health care in South Australia and nationally. During her residence, Tamara was drawn to the many artefacts in the Collection that are associated with breathing, such as respiratory and anaesthetic equipment. After photographing these objects, Tamara played with the graphics to create intuitive collages, forming a series of nonsensical experiments referencing the ordinarily invisible and ephemeral process of breathing. To learn more about Tamara’s art practice, visit her website and Instagram page @tamaraghostmaker.

Breath Lab – Exhibition image

– Breath Lab installation by artist Tamara Baillie in the Yellow Heart Gallery

Defying Gender Divides: Trailblazers of the Women's and Children's Hospital (May – July 2019)

Historically, gender divides have been well entrenched in key healthcare professions. Medicine was considered a career for men only, until determined women defied social norms and trained as doctors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Medicine is no longer considered a masculine endeavour in Australia, but gender divisions in the fields of nursing and midwifery did not start being bridged until more contemporary times. Men first made their entry into general nurse training in the latter half of the 20th century, and are still a minority in paediatric nursing and midwifery here today. With the exhibition Defying gender divides, the Women’s and Children’s Hospital celebrated trailblazing doctors, nurses and midwives in the history of the former Adelaide Children’s Hospital, Mothers’ and Babies’ Health Association and Queen Victoria Hospital. The exhibition also introduced some contemporary male midwives, who are creating tomorrow’s history as they provide expert care for women clients of the Hospital today. This exhibition was curated by Tori Delany (WCHN volunteer) and was an event in South Australia’s History Festival 2019.

Defying Gender Divides – Exhibition image

– Adelaide Children’s Hospital trainee nurses, group 851 (graduated 1988)

Every Penny: A History of Our Early Fundraising (February – April 2019)

In the early days of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, every penny was carefully counted. Every penny was appreciated; every penny was put to use. Prior to being declared public hospitals, the former Adelaide Children’s Hospital and Queen Victoria Hospital raised most of their own funds in order to provide healthcare services. Every Penny presented an overview of major fundraising activities in the history of the Women’s and Children’s Hospital, such as the legendary lawn fetes of the Adelaide Children’s Hospital, and its major building appeal of the 1960s. It also referenced a few lesser known, yet equally honourable, fundraising efforts. From celebrities to community auxiliaries, people from all walks of life took up the cause. Some fundraising schemes were inventive – some even hilarious! The aim of this exhibition was to inform of the WCHN’s incredible legacy of fundraising activity, but equally to entertain.

Every Penny – Exhibition image

– Scene from Adelaide Children’s Hospital lawn fete, December 1918

Greatest Hits (December 2018 – February 2019)

‘Greatest hits’ is a term usually associated with albums that feature a musician or band’s best-loved songs. This exhibition presented a different kind of album: a photo album. It was a ‘best of’ compilation from the photo archive of the WCHN’s History and Heritage Collection, showcasing some striking and evocative images from the period 1876 to 1976. Among the great ‘singles’ in this exhibition album were scenes from the old Queen’s Home, Queen Victoria Hospital and Estcourt House. There was even a star appearance from the tour van of the Mothers’ and Babies’ Health Association, predecessor to the former Child and Youth Health. Like many a hit single, each exhibition image conjured an atmosphere and told a story. Most images sung of the changes that have occurred throughout the Network during its first century. Some illustrated the dedication and expertise of past characters who served at the WCHN’s various institutions, and the bonds between them. Above all, this exhibition was a testament to the spirit and resilience of the children who have, over the years, graced the Hospital’s gardens, wards and halls.

Greatest Hits – Exhibition image

– Baby Helen Sears and her mother on Colton Ward at the Adelaide Children’s Hospital, 1955

Devoted to Care: Our Nurses in World War One (September – November 2018)

To mark the 100th anniversary of the final year of World War One (1914–1918), this exhibition commemorated the contributions of nurses who trained and worked at the former Adelaide Children's Hospital and Queen's Home and went on to provide important medical assistance in the military hospitals abroad. It highlighted some nurses about whom we could determine a little more of their stories, or who made significant advancements in the treatment of infectious diseases. Curated by Emma Taylor (WCHN volunteer), this exhibition acknowledged the sacrifices of not only those who left on ships to actively serve in the Great War, but the nurses who stayed behind to keep the Adelaide Children's Hospital 'ship' afloat.

Devoted to Care – Exhibition image

– Group portrait of Adelaide nurses ready to leave for Bombay to serve in World War One, c1917

Forgotten Murals of the Adelaide Children's Hospital (May – August 2018)

This exhibition investigated two sets of significant murals that once adorned the Adelaide Children’s Hospital: a series of Australiana murals produced in 1945 by Dorrit Black with other artists including Jacqueline Hick, Shirley Adams and Jeffrey Smart; and an artwork painted by students of the Aboriginal Community College (now Tauondi) in 1978. Presented together in this exhibition as they never were in life, the murals spark a conversation about changes in the recognition of Aboriginal art and culture in Australian society and art scenes, and in the Hospital’s relationship with Aboriginal people. This exhibition was on display in 2018 for South Australia’s History Festival, and for Reconciliation week (27 May–3 June).

Forgotten Murals I – Exhibition image

– 'Legend of Creation' mural in waiting room of old outpatients hall, Adelaide Children’s Hospital, mid-to-late 1950s

All Yellow Heart Gallery exhibitions are proudly presented by the Women’s & Children’s Hospital Foundation in partnership with the History and Heritage Group of the Women’s and Children’s Health Network, South Australia.

WCHF Arts in Health