Mid-century modern

Rose Seidler House, built by Harry Seidler between 1948 and 1950 is regarded as an iconic example of Modernist domestic architecture in Australia. The house is in excellent condition, and retains many of its original features, including original furniture sourced by Harry Seidler in 1948 or designed specifically for the interiors.

‘Mid Century Modern’, compiled by former curator Peter Emmett in 1989, is the foundational document that we continue to use to define the conservation practices and interpretive objectives for the presentation of Rose Seidler House as a house museum. Emmett worked directly with Harry Seidler to collate and analyse a vast amount of information about the history and physical condition of the house and to develop guidelines for its conservation and interpretation. Although written now over 30 years ago, the content is still relevant to Museums of History NSW practice today.

Emmett’s conservation analysis, undertaken with Seidler’s guidance and input is likely to have been the first instance of heritage conservation principles being applied to a Modernist building in Australia, with many new challenges encountered. The success of the approach taken is witnessed by the fact that it has not been significantly varied over the years.

In response to the many ongoing requests for information about the house and its presentation as a museum, we have recently digitised the original document, working from a second-generation printed copy. Originally produced on an electric typewriter, the document has now been converted to an editable word format and sourcing, where possible, new scans of the original images. Images, including original photos, drawings, printed newsletters, magazine and newspaper articles were sourced from the Caroline Simpson Library, Penelope Seidler, and Ku-ring-gai Council.

Rose Seidler House still generates great interest for both national and international audiences. MHNSW receives a number of requests each year, relating to the conservation objectives and practices of Rose Seidler House from students of architecture around the world.

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Crowds at the entrance to St James Station
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