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Dining Room Chair #2000-1439

Maple dining chair with red leather padded back and drop-in seat of horseshoe shape; on tapering square section legs with brass capped feet; reupholstered in red vinyl.

History

This dining chair was designed in 1926 by the Federal Capital Commission Architects Department, led by principal architect John Smith Murdoch, specifically for Provisional Parliament House. This piece was built by one of the six firms (Myer Emporium Pty Ltd, Melbourne; Anthony Hordern and Sons, Sydney; A Pengelly and Co, Adelaide; W H Rocke and Co, Melbourne; Beard Watson & Co Ltd, Sydney; Bebarfalds Ltd, Sydney) that were contracted to construct Murdoch’s designs. This dining chair has been used in a variety of capacities throughout the building.

The dining room was also intended to provide some comfort and compensation for long sitting hours in Provisional Parliament House and extended periods away from home. Many casual meals and social events were held here, squeezed in between the rough and tumble of political life.

Provisional Parliament House chefs were so skilled and inventive that, on several occasions, they created food fit for a Queen-Australia’s Queen Elizabeth II. Her Majesty first dined in the Members’ Dining Room Banquet Hall in 1954.

The Members’ Dining Room was also called the Commonwealth Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms. During three-month long parliamentary sessions in Canberra, it was a home away from home for politicians. This was especially true before air travel became common.

Crisp white tablecloths and sparkling silver cutlery welcomed members and senators to their party’s particular tables. Unlike in most Australian homes, waiters, and later waitresses, provided silver service. They served the politicians’ food from elegant silver platters directly onto their plates at the table.

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Statement of values

This dining chair is significant because of its association with the Member’s Dining Room. The dining and recreation facilities were an important part of the life of the building from 1927 to 1988. They reflect the intention to provide some measure of comfort for the building’s occupants, in compensation for long sitting hours and the long periods people would spend away from their homes. The facilities also played an important national role in hosting Royal visits, official State receptions and formal dinners for important guests.

This dining chair is significant as a component of the Heritage Collection, which comprises those pieces of furniture which were used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1924 and 1988. The collection has associations with the process of government, the ceremonial, administrative, promotional and recreational functions conducted within the building, and with the individuals who governed Australia between 1927 and 1988. The building is a primary example of the Inter War Stripped Classical style of architecture prominent in Canberra’s government architecture of the 1920s to 1940s. The characteristic expression of the building’s style is due to the design work of the Commonwealth’s first government architect, John Smith Murdoch. The Old Parliament House building has a richness of internal fabric and collections, which include the purpose designed furniture and furnishings, that convey the way in which parliamentary functions were conducted, the everyday use of the building, and the hierarchical nature of parliamentary staffing practices. This furniture is significant as it has remained within the building for which it was designed.

  • Dining Room ChairDining Room Chair —

Details

Width 495mm
Height 875mm
Depth 480mm
Medium Maple; vinyl; timber; brass
Creator’s name Federal Capital Commission Architects Department
Date created Circa 1927