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Collection - Pre-Visit


Humans (and animals for that matter) like to collect things. For some people it’s coins, for some stamps, for some art works. You may end up with one or two of these items, or a whole room full, on display for people who want to come and see. Some people give these items to a museum or official collection to put on display because they are so important. When this happens, a team of professionals will assess the items in terms of significance and decide whether to add them to their collection.


  • Why do we like to keep things? As a class, brainstorm all the reasons why people might start a collection.  

  • Think about your family - do you have any collections in your house? In pairs, or small groups, students interview each other about collections they or their family members have (or wish they had). Ask students to consider;

    • What is in the collection (or what would they like to be in the collection)?
    • Who owns the collection?
    • How or why did they start the collection?
    • How do the things they collect make them feel?

Older students may also like to consider the difference between collecting and hoarding.

Students share what they discovered with the rest of the class.  

  • "Those who do not know the past are doomed to repeat it.” Ask students to consider this quote from Albert Camus. Give students 5-10 minutes to brainstorm or list all the reasons why they feel it is important to remember and study the past. Students then move into pairs to share their ideas. (You may like to use this prompt for Think-Pair-Share activity.)

For older students, you may like to use the quote as a prompt for a longer form / essay response.  

  • I'm very happy to hear that my work inspires writers and painters. It's the most beautiful compliment, the greatest reward. Art should always be an exchange.” Discuss with the class how this quote, from musician Nick Cave, suggests another reason why we collect items (particularly those related to art). Ask students to think about artworks (music, design, literature, visual art, performance etc.) that have inspired them in some way. Choose one piece and consider:

    • What is it?
    • Who made it?
    • What do you see / hear in the piece?
    • How does it make you feel?
    • Why do you like it?
    • In what ways does it inspire you?

Students present their personal response to the chosen artwork to the class. Share the artworks (in image or audio form) with the class.

  • (Advanced) Significance 2.0. The Collections Council of Australia published a document called Significance 2.0. Here is their definition of significance:

    Read the section “Why significance?” – Collections and significance on Page 2 of the document, then explore the Ned Kelly Case study (Pages 5 – 7).

    1. What themes, people and items would be significant for an Australian music collection? Why?
    2. Brainstorm ideas with the class or in small groups:
      • Who decides which items are significant to source for a collection?
      • How do curators decide which items to exhibit at a particular time?
      • How do curators know items are real and not fraudulent?
      • What factors could hinder curators from being able to collect items to do with a particular person or event?

    The following free online mind mapping / brainstorming tools could be useful for these activities:


    We like to collect things to remember history; what has happened to the world and us in the past. Sometimes looking at these things makes us feel nostalgic or emotional. Sometimes it reminds us of another time we like to reminisce about or events that are very important to remember. We can learn from the past; some things should be repeated and some should not. Knowing about the past is very important for understanding the present and informing the future.

    For more information on the Significance of items, please refer to the Collections Council of Australia’s Significance 2.0 document.

TASK 1 - What is a Collection?
Now that we understand a little more about why we collect things, let’s discover more about the people and the items involved in collection. There are many issues to take into account when sourcing, compiling, storing, displaying and looking after a collection. For example, some items might be old, fragile or easily lost.

Headdress worn by Kylie Minogue Homecoming Tour 2006 - Act One. Created by designer John Galliano. Gift of Kylie Minogue, Cultural Gifts Program, 2008. Photographer – Jeremy Dillon.

Kylie Minogue is a great case study. She has generously donated many costumes and items to the Australian Performing Arts Collection.

TASK 2 - In Depth
These IN DEPTH stories are designed to introduce students to one particular person who stands out in Australian music history. These stories are a starting point. After reading the stories, teachers should encourage students to undertake their own research.


Think about one thing you can’t wait to do when you get home from school. Something you look forward to all day. You don’t even bother changing out of your school uniform; you just want to start as soon as you get home. Is there something in your life like that? Well, there was for Angus Young, the guitarist from AC/DC. He always LOVED to play the guitar. Born in Scotland in 1955 and the youngest of 8 children (!), Angus moved to Australia when he was eight along with his parents, two brothers and one sister, Margaret. Remember them, they come back later in the story.

Angus first started playing a banjo but soon moved on to the cheap, second-hand acoustic guitar his mother bought him (and very, very different to the expensive electric guitars he would end up playing on massive stages). When he was 16 he bought a Gibson SG guitar from a music shop close to his house in Sydney. He liked it because the top of the guitar body looked like devil horns. He still has that guitar today, and, all these years later, Gibson now market this guitar as The Angus Young SG. (Note the custom lightning bolts on the neck!)

Gibson’s “Angus Young” SG guitar from

He loved playing guitar and played in bands called Kantuckee and Tantrum. Then, when Angus was 18, his brother, Malcolm, asked him to join his band. Angus was shocked. In an interview he said “Malcolm would be in one room with his tape recorder putting tunes together, and I would be in the other room pretending I was Jimi Hendrix. When I’d walk in to see what he was up to, he’d go, ‘Get out!’ I was amazed when he asked me to come down to a rehearsal and play.”

Angus Young playing in his first band Kantuckee. Image from AC/DC: Maximum Rock n Roll by Arnaud Durieux and Murray Engleheart. Photo credit – Mark Sneddon.

His sister, Margaret, decided the band needed a name and that Angus should have a trademark look. And she came up with both.

The band became AC/DC. The name came from the letters on Margaret’s sewing machine (a term for electrical currents – alternating current / direct current).

And Angus’ trademark look? Margaret told Angus that since he would never change out of his uniform before practicing his guitar at home, he should wear it as his signature outfit in the band. During the 1970s, she made all his school uniform outfits including shorts, a shirt, a tie and a hat. He wore them for video clips, live performances and band photos. He said “My sister came up with the idea back in 1973, when I was fifteen... As a kid, I'd come right home from school and pick up my guitar without changing out of my school uniform. At dinner time I'd still be in the suit, playing away. She thought it was cute – it would give people something to look at.” (Angus Young as quoted by Brad Tolinski in 'AC/DC', programme for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 2003 Induction.)

And now well into his 60s, he’s still wearing his school uniform!

AC/DC went on to be one of Australia’s most successful bands and Angus Young one of the most well known guitarists.

Angus Young drinking his favourite beverage, milk

You can see him wearing the school uniform in the video for Thunderstruck.

So what items of Angus Young’s are actually in the Australian Music Vault collection? Well, there’s a jacket, shirt, hat, shorts and necktie - a complete outfit, made by Margaret. These were donated by Angus Young himself!


And why are these items significant? Why have they been included in the Australian Music Vault Collection?

Firstly, AC/DC are a very famous band. Most people, young or old, will recognise an AC/DC song. They have sold millions of records across the world, and their music continues to be very popular today. They have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, have streets named after them in Madrid and Melbourne, and have topped the charts across the world. AC/DC are a great example of an Australian band who, like many other bands, started playing in garages on second hand instruments, but went on to achieve international success.

And then there is the iconic nature of Angus Young’s costumes. The school uniform came to define Angus over the years and contributed to the overall look and image of the band. As did his distinctive guitar, the Gibson “Angus Young” SG. Having such items in the collection also tells a great story about the Young family. Malcolm and Angus are brothers who formed the band and it was their sister, Margaret, who came up with the name, the look and made the costumes. In a conversation with the Head Curator of the Australian Music Vault, Margaret said that the costumes in the collection dated from around 1973-74. Margaret was able to identify that period from the fabric of the uniform and the badge that she had embroidered on her sewing machine!

And, finally, the fact that Angus himself donated this costume to the collection means a great deal. These are treasured items to be stored safely, displayed and remembered.

We hope you enjoyed learning more about these special items in the Australian Music Vault Collection.

Now go and listen to some AC/DC. 




Victorian Curriculum Links:

Learning Areas Capabilities
The Arts
  • Dance / Drama / Media Arts / Music / Visual Art
    • Respond and Interpret
  • Critical and Creative Thinking
  • Personal and Social
  • Speaking and Listening
The Humanities
  • History
    • Historical Knowledge – Australia as a Nation (Level 5 and 6)


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