Stanley Melbourne Bruce at The National Archives

Media release: Tuesday, 17 November 2009

A new exhibition showcasing for the first time the rich collection of Stanley Melbourne Bruce, Australia's eighth Prime Minister, goes on show at the National Archives in Canberra on 11 December.

On display in Stanley Melbourne Bruce: Prime Minister and Statesman will be personal papers and objects, including Bruce's war medals, Freedom of the City caskets, cutlery and crockery, and his spectacular Privy Council uniform.  The collection was willed to the people of Australia and is held by the National Archives. 

The exhibition highlights the contribution his wife, Ethel Bruce, made to The Lodge, and also features the important Mildenhall collection of photographs of early Canberra.

Bruce became Prime Minister in 1923, aged 39. He was Australia's High Commissioner in London during World War II, became a British peer and was the first Australian to sit in the House of Lords as Viscount Lord Bruce of Melbourne.

Bruce also brought the Federal Government to Canberra, oversaw the opening of the Provisional Parliament House, worked to establish the CSIR (later the CSIRO), and was the first Chancellor of the Australian National University.  

Curator Tracey Clarke says the exhibition is an opportunity to discover an elegant, cosmopolitan man who made a wide-ranging and significant contribution to the nation. 

“Tall, handsome and always immaculately dressed right down to the spats on his shoes, Bruce was characterised as an Englishman born in Australia. But he always had Australia's interests at heart,” she said.

“Bruce's large and historically important collection provides a vivid picture of Australian politics and society through the eyes of a prime minister and international statesman.”

Tracey Clarke is available for interview and high-resolution images can be downloaded.

Stanley Melbourne Bruce: Prime Minister and Statesman

Date: 11 December 2009 – 29 May 2010
Time: 9.00am – 5.00pm, Closed Christmas Day and Good Friday.
Place: National Archives of Australia, Queen Victoria Terrace, ACT
Free admission 

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017