Ned: The Exhibition at the Old Melbourne Gaol opened to the public on Monday 22 October 2001, and ran for nine months. Ned: The Exhibition was a once in a lifetime opportunity to view original artefacts from the life and times of Ned Kelly and the Kelly Gang. On display was an unparalleled collection of Kellyana, with many items never before seen by the public.
Ned: The Exhibition was the culmination of many years’ research and dedication by Brendan Pearse and others to Ned’s story. Ian Jones, acknowledged Kelly authority and author of Ned Kelly: A Short Life says of Ned: The Exhibition, ‘I’m confident that the exhibition will be a major Kelly landmark – offering the general public a unique level of contact with the Kelly story. Quite apart from telling the story, the exhibits will give the whole thing a touchable reality, a sense of involvement that’s only been possible in the past for those of us who’ve been privileged to share the trust of many, many people who’ve been linked directly or indirectly with the events of the Kelly Outbreak.’ Simply, Ned: The Exhibition was the biggest Ned Kelly related event ever staged, with over 200 items on display. We looked at the Kelly story in three distinct areas:
Ned Kelly’s life and times
Actual items from Ned’s life. Objects he touched, documents and relics relating to his story.
Ned Kelly in literature and film
We looked at the many movies based on this incredible story. From the world’s first full length feature film made in 1906 to the Mick Jagger movie, the television mini series The Last Outlaw and everything in between.
Ned Kelly in popular legend
We looked at the merchandise and souvenirs, and the mountains of literature on Ned Kelly from the books to newspaper articles.
Items featured included
A Snider Enfield Carbine that was ‘souvenired’ by Ned during the Euroa bank hold up in December 1878. This was Ned’s favourite weapon; so much so that he called it ‘Betty’ and he engraved a ‘K’ into the butt.
Kelly Homestead Door
The original door from the Kelly’s Greta home, as built by Ned himself in 1877. Inscriptions from Dan and Grace Kelly have survived, as well as its original spy hole.
Quinn Homestead Door
The forge door from Ned’s grandparents’ Wallan homestead. Engravings of ‘EK’ made by young Ned in the 1860’s remain.
Ned’s Whisky Still
The remains of Ned’s pot whiskey still from the Kelly’s Bullock Creek hideout near Mansfield. The Kelly’s were panning for gold and making the whiskey to help finance their mother’s trial after the famous ‘Fitzpatrick Incident’ in April 1878. It was from Bullock Creek that the Kelly’s descended on the police camp at Stringybark Creek, and into history.
As used in Ned’s famous last stand against the police at Glenrowan. The revolver was souvenired by railway guard Jesse Dowsett after Ned’s capture.
Items from the many movies relating to the Kelly story. Items range from Mick Jagger’s armour from the 1970 Tony Richardson movie Ned Kelly, props and special effects firearms from the 1980 mini series The Last Outlaw, movie posters and other associated items.
Many photographs from the Kelly era, showing the main players in the story, locations and buildings as they were in the 1870’s and beyond. Some photographs have never been seen before by the public.
The sword awarded to Sergeant Arthur Steele by the Stock Protection Society after Ned’s capture.
From police files, official letters and telegrams, reports and prosecution briefs. Ned’s last letter from his condemned cell to the Victorian Governor, Ned’s letter to Sergeant Babbington (the only example of his handwriting known to exist), Birth and Death certificates, Ned’s father’s Convict Records and many more. Significantly, Ned: The Exhibition is proud to announce that we will be showing, for the first time in history, Ned Kelly and Joe Byrne’s Jerilderie letter. This will be shown on two occasions during the nine-month exhibition period, including the exhibition opening. The exhibition includes many other items of interest, including the Kelly Gang armour and original reward notices.