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Senate Chamber Armchair #1999-1438Senate Chamber, North Wing, Main Floor

Queensland maple armchair with a square back, arms and seat, upholstered in red leather; plain apron with raised circles above four block legs; on castors.


This Senate Chamber armchair is still located in the Senate Chamber where it was used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1927 and 1988. This chair was designed in 1927 by the Federal Capital Commission Architects Department, led by principal architect John Smith Murdoch, specifically for Provisional Parliament House. Murdoch’s design for this chair and the other Chamber furniture was inspired by the Westminster system of Parliament and the green and red colours of the two Chambers reflect the colour scheme of the lower and upper houses in the British House of Commons. This chair was manufactured by Beard Watson and Co Ltd using Queensland maple and leather supplied by Howe Bros of Preston, Victoria.

This chair was one of three armchairs that were placed at the head of the central table (1999-1431 in the Chamber. This armchair sat in the centre, and was used by the Deputy President (who was also known as the Chairman of Committees). Two other chairs, very similar to this design (but smaller), were placed on either side of this chair and were used by the Clerks.

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Statement of values

This armchair is a significant item of furniture through its association with the Senate Chamber. The Senate has outstanding significance as a venue for the debates, petitions and votes associated with sixty-one years of Australian legislature, and recognisable by its red upholstery. This armchair was used in the Senate between 1927 and 1988, associating it with significant people in Australian political history, while also reflecting the formal and adversarial nature of debate, and the role of the Senate in the parliamentary process.

This armchair 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.

  • Senate Chamber ArmchairSenate Chamber Armchair —


Width 720mm
Height 960mm
Depth 580mm
Medium Queensland maple; timber; metal; leather; textile
Creator’s name Federal Capital Commission Architects Department
Date created 1927