We live in a material world. The things we own, the clothes we wear, the houses we live in, all express who we are, or who we want to be. We live surrounded by stuff — more of it than in any previous generation.

Some of these things reflect our lives as individuals. But in this exhibition, we are interested in objects associated with family life. And not just in a passive sense. Some material objects shaped family life in Australia in an active sense, and it is these objects that are the focus of this display.

The exhibition ranges in time from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, a period that has seen many changes in the idea, size, and shape of the family. Thousands of objects have come and gone at the same time, and we can feature only a few. But we argue that each of these things impacted on family life in some way, and in turn helped to shape the modern family. Undoubtedly there are other things we could have chosen. You might think of some as you move around the display. But we hope you enjoy the stories we present about each object here, and that they make you think about the things that matter most to you, both now, and in your lifetime.

Share your own ideas about your favourite objects in Belongings at the Old Treasury Building.