Ever felt like someone is watching you?
Australia’s Secret Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) was set up in 1949 has files on over half a million Australians over the years. They have watched and recorded information on suspected of threats to national security, alleged communists, and university student hippies such as movie reviewer David Stratton (I kid you not).
The Historic Houses Trust has a fantastic exhibition at the Justice & Police Museum called ‘Persons of Interest: The ASIO Files’ – http://bit.ly/nQKj8O. The exhibition includes black and white photos and film footage of suspects going around their daily lives particularly from the 1950s – 1960s.
One video entranced me of a lady waiting for a car or someone. She had perfectly set hair, matching hat, gloves, purse and dress – very elegant. A new form of reality tv – watching ASIO surveillance footage? There is an example of one of the clunky 16mm spy cameras used. It would have been challenging to set up without attracting too much attention.
In addition to photos, film footage and artefacts there are a number of reproduced files and letters that you can flick through. There are audio interviews from former agents to listen to and one room is set up as if it was an ASIO office (fans of the tv show ‘Mad Man’and retro design will like this a lot).
The collection is just the right size – not too big, not too small. A great way to spend a free hour or so when you find yourself at Circular Quay and no idea what to do. Like all Historic Houses Trust Properties you don’t spend a lot on admission either.
If you have more time (1.5 hours+) to spare take a look around the rest of the museum. There are some truly creepy items from the razor gang era of Sydney (currently featured in the tv series ‘Underbelly Razor’). You can explore cells, administrative areas, a courtroom, and I was surprised by the taxidermy police dogs (ewww).
If you’re feeling peckish after all that learning I recommend the nearby Museum of Sydney Café on the corner of Bridge and Phillip St – http://www.moscafe.com.au Great coffee, they do a mean breakfast, plus have free wifi.
What? Persons of Interest: The ASIO Files
When? Open daily 9.30am-5pm until Sun 29 April 2012
Where? Justice and Police Museum, Corner Albert & Phillip Sts, Circular Quay, Sydney, NSW, 2000
How much? Adults $10, Kids/Concession $5, Family $20, Historic Houses Trust Members free
Transport – http://www.cityrail.info
Website – http://bit.ly/nQKj8O
Sydneysiders – Has anyone been to this? What did you like best?