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The collections of the museum have unique historical value to Australia, having important associations with the processes of government, the building’s functions and with the people who governed Australia from 1927 to 1988. The humble chair provides a good entry point to our collections: what do these chairs tell us about Australian democracy?

Speaker’s Chair

When the Speaker unveiled this chair in 1926 he thanked Great Britain for this gift and for the gift of parliamentary democracy. While independent of Great Britain, there is still evidence of the links between Australia and Great Britain in the elaborate ornamentation on the chair.

Vice Regal Chair

This is one of the least used chairs in the Senate Chamber because it was only ever used by the reigning monarch or their representative when opening Parliament.

Dining Room Chair

This dining room chair has been used by politicians and visiting dignitaries while seated for silver service at special government occasions or for the everyday meat and three veg. Today this chair is in service for wedding or conference guests.

Senate Chamber Bench Seat

A bit too comfortable? The deep, soft leather bench seats in the chambers may have made it hard for parliamentarians to stay awake during important but late night debates.

Barbers Chair

A haircut is a great leveller. This barber’s chair reminds us that this was once a town within a building, providing essential services for the politicians and staff who worked here.


The bar—the classically Australian place to socialise, debate, discuss and recover from another long day spent in the democracy factory.

House of Representatives Chamber Reporters Stool

At 200 words per minute with 97 per cent accuracy, Hansard reporters sat on this stool and recorded all discussions in the Chambers. No bias. No flourishes. No agenda.

President’s Chair

What could be more Australian than a fair go? The role of the President in the Senate is to keep order so everyone gets a chance to speak. This chair was used from 1927 to 1988.

House of Representatives Press Chair

The press are an integral part of our open and accountable democracy…or are they? Did you know the presence of press in the chambers is a privilege not a right? The Speaker of the House of Representatives may withdraw permission for the press to be in the Chamber.