The Waterworth Optical Collection comprises more than 200 items – lenses, magnifiers, slide projectors, instrument cases, stereoscopes, related optical artefacts, newspaper articles, photographs and advertising materials. The Collection is a rich source of visual, historical and design material for the general public and researchers about a key period of Tasmania’s industrial and cultural heritage.
It provides a glimpse into the ingenuity and resourcefulness of a small group of Hobart scientists and inventors during World War Two who, with the energy, spirit and commitment of some 200 women, formed a highly collaborative team that made major contributions to the war effort. Many of the collection's objects are also from the postwar EN Waterworth and Waterworth & Bessell businesses that built on the success of the wartime production, providing post-war careers for the skilled, mainly female workforce for nearly 25 years.
This new globally accessible collection provides an important link to the local Tasmanian community, who responded to the wartime call to help in the ‘Optical Munitions Annexe 9/101’, at the University of Tasmania’s Domain campus. It is a testament to a major example of collaboration between the University, local industry and the local community during a period of global crisis.
In 2018 we celebrate 75 years of 'The Annexe' and the creative people involved in its success - a potent symbol of Tasmanian energy and community.