Kimberley Webber is a researcher, curator and project manager, who has specialised in the interpretation of 19th and early 20th century material culture. After graduating from the University of Sydney, she held a pre-doctoral Fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, DC., and an appointment at the leading department of museum studies in Scandinavia (at the University of Umea).
Kimberley has a First Class Honours degree in History, a Diploma of Museum Studies, and a PhD in History from the University of Sydney. Her doctorate, 'Romancing the Machine: The Enchantment of Domestic Technology in the Australian Home, 1850-1914', used evidence of material culture to contest accepted interpretations of the factors that influence technological change. Recently, she completed a Master’s degree in Public Administration, also at the University of Sydney.
Appointed in 1986 as one of the founding social history curators at Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum, Kimberley produced eighteen exhibitions and led the development of two exhibition centres. She has edited three major publications, written two series of children’s books and a history of Australian retailing, and has contributed articles to peer-reviewed journals.
Click here to see a list of Kimberley's exhibitions and publications.
As the Powerhouse Museum’s Senior Curator of Australian History, Kimberley worked extensively with regional, state and commonwealth museums. Highlights of her research included the Pioneer Women’s Hut at Tumbarumba, and the National Quilt Register (scroll down), the first time this type of material culture was comprehensively documented, an achievement recognised by the National Trust Heritage Award for a Community Project. In 2001, working with Dr Martha Sear, Kimberley produced the first collaborative social history exhibition to tour NSW ('Births of a Nation'), and won the 2002 Energy Australia National Trust Heritage Award.
As Principal Curator, Exhibitions and Access, at the Powerhouse, Kimberley oversaw the development of the Museum’s innovative methodology in significance assessment and oversaw the Museum’s move towards providing online access to its collection. She has also worked on a number of projects concerning the built environment, and (with Dr Ian Hoskins) published the first study of Australia’s disappearing retail heritage, What’s in Store: A History of Retailing in Australia (2003).
Kimberley is an accredited member of the Professional Historians Association (NSW) and has held consultancies at local, state and national levels. In 2017, she has assessed the significance of the Parramatta Stadium Collection, and has overseen its conservation and storage. She currently researching 19th century auction records and the insights they provide into domestic life.