Miss Australia Company collection
The Miss Australia Company collection comprises items of regalia worn by national titleholders in the Miss Australia Quest. The collection includes both the Miss Australia crown (one of the most recognisable symbols of the quest, used from 1965 to 1991), and the Miss Australia Charity Queen tiara (used from 1976 to 1991). These items are supported by a series of thirty-four (34) black & white photographs documenting Quest titleholders over the years 1953 to 1987.
The Miss Australia Quest (from 1992 known as the Miss Australia Awards) ran continuously from 1953 to 2000 and was arguably the longest running, most popular and most successful charitable enterprise in Australia's history. The first documented nationwide contest to identify Australia's ideal woman was held in 1907, however the first official use of the title 'Miss Australia' is more generally thought to have been used in relation to 'Miss Australia 1926' - Beryl Mills from Western Australia. Further contests were held in 1927, 1937, and from 1945 until 1950. It was in 1953 when Bernard Dowd (manufacturer of Hickory USA lingerie in Australia) and his company Dowd Associates took over running of the competition that the Quest became a registered business enterprise, and the 'search for Miss Australia' gained momentum. From 1954 until 2000 the Quest ran primarily as a fundraising event for the Australian Cerebral Palsy Association (ACPA), and is estimated to have raised over $90 million for people with cerebral palsy.
Over its lifetime, the Quest reflected many of the changes that took place in Australian society: changing roles and perceptions of women; changing views of people with disabilities; the influence of migrants and 'New Australians'; and the presentation of Australia and Australians overseas.
Copyright National Museum of Australia
Physical access to the collection by appointment only