Special Exhibitions

In addition to the permanent exhibitions housed in our Museum, the Society mounts special exhibitions during Heritage Week (April-May) and Council’s Emerge Festival (September) each year.O'Donehue

In 1978 Architect, Martin O’Donoghue who lived in Johnson Street Chatswood, decided to take a series of photographs of the then Chatswood Town Centre (today the Chatswood CBD) and surrounds which documented some of the development changes that were then occurring in Chatswood.

He has donated these images to Willoughby District Historical Society and we are pleased to reproduce them for this exhibition.
Some 50 black and white finely detailed images at A2 size are on display as well as some then and now.

Forty years later, they form a wonderful time capsule record of that time.
The exhibition is open at the WDHS Museum, 58 Johnson Street Chatswood, 1-4pm Sundays or by appointment 9412 2979.


Celebrating Willoughby City’s Diversity – Culture & Communities

City Surfaces

Changing Food Habits

Artistic Voices

Word on the Street

Tales of Flatrock Creek

That’s Entertainment


Willoughby Museum promo panel for website (2)

Our next exhibition, Celebrating Willoughby City’s Heritage, Cultures and Communities.

This photo of Korean women in their traditional dress posing with the Walter and Marion Griffin puppets
of the Castlecrag Progress Association at the Willoughby Spring Fair of 12 September 2009 has
been selected as the feature image for the forthcoming Celebrating Willoughby’s Heritage, Cultures
and Communities Exhibition. Bob McKillop photowill open on 19 April 2018 as our contribution to the Australian National Trust’s 2018 Heritage Festival. Its theme is ‘My Culture, My Story: Celebrating the diversity of cultures that have shaped our shared heritage’.

The exhibition will examine the cultural diversity of our communities in Willoughby City, explore the changing technologies that have shaped their identities and present a selection of prominent individuals who have made outstanding contributions to specific communities within Willoughby. It will also focus on the changes in our work and leisure that have emerged in response to new technologies. A selection of objects, photographs and art works from our collections will help to interpret the key themes of the exhibition.

The final elements of the exhibition are still being formulated, so more detailed information on its elements will be presented in the April issue of Willoughby History Chatters.


City Surfaces

City SurfaceA solo exhibition by Rob Wilson. Local photographer Wilson, documents built surfaces in Willoughby City, capturing the patterns and sculpture forms of our architectural heritage.

This exhibition is part of the Willoughby Visual Arts Biennial, which runs from 6 – 24 September. Exhibition open Thursdays and Sundays 1 PM – 4 PM. Thence Sundays 1PM to 4 PM.

Changing Food Habits

Changing Food Habits

Changing Food Habits Exhibition

Exhibition open Thursdays and Sundays to 24th September 1 PM to 4PM thence Sundays 1 PM to 4 PM.



Our new exhibition at Willoughby Museum for the National Trust Heritage Festival, Artistic Voices, will be opened by Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney on Sunday 23 April at 2pm.

Curated by Terry Fogarty, it will showcase some 100 individuals who have contributed to the long and rich heritage of artistic endeavours that reflect the cultural diversity of Willoughby City. Their contributions cover a variety of artistic fields, as artists, architects, actors, writers, playwrights, poets, singers, dancers, musicians, photographers, sculptors, puppeteers, film producers or radio or television personalities. The exhibition will tell the stories of these notables through large panels and smaller profiles of their key achievements, backed by artefacts from our museum collection, both in the main exhibition room and elsewhere at the museum. We look forward to your next visit to the museum to take in this extensive exhibition with the assistance of our guides.

The museum will be open from 1pm to 4pm on Thursdays and Sundays for this exhibition from 23 April to the end of May and Sunday afternoons thereafter.

Photographs from the Artistic Voices exhibition



Developed by local artist Catherine Martin. This exhibition will utilise the names formed in concrete on the footpaths of streets, avenues and roads in Willoughby City to create new artistic forms. Council officers are assisting in demonstrating the processing of indenting the letters into freshly-poured concrete and the provision of objects for the exhibition.

Open to the public from 1pm to 4pm on Sundays. Adults $5, concession $4, children $2; family $10.

Tales of Flat Rock Creek

Mayor Pat Reilly cuts the ribbon to officially open the exhibition on 2 April 2011.
Mayor Pat Reilly cuts the ribbon to officially open the exhibition on 2 April 2011. Judy Peters photo.

Developed for the National Trust’s 2011 Heritage Festival theme, ‘Amazing Stories’, our current main exhibition explores the impact of urban development on the pristine natural environment of Flat Rock Creek through the eyes of Willoughby residents. The story is toiled through three primary themes: the Rugged Landscape to the 1930s, the Ruined valley resulting from the garbage tip that impacted on the downstream landscape, flora and fauna, and Reclamation, covering the rehabilitation of the land and the incinerator as public recreational facilities and a bushland walk. The Walter Burley Griffin-designed Willoughby Incinerator building and Edward Hallstrom’s Silent Knight refrigerator factory are also key themes in the story.

The exhibition was opened by Pat Reilly, Mayor of Willoughby City and the WDHS Patron, on 2 April 2011 and it will continue through this year. The story is told through a series of display panels, a banner, historic objects, a changing display of historic images and two DVDs of local residents telling their stories.

Exhibition details

That’s Entertainment

The displays depicting the history of the Willoughby Theatre Society, the Chatswood Musical Society and te Epicentre Theatre Company. The large banner depicting the Willoughby Theatre Society’s productions during its first 50 years is a feature object.
The displays depicting the history of the Willoughby Theatre Society, the Chatswood Musical Society and te Epicentre Theatre Company. The large banner depicting the Willoughby Theatre Society’s productions during its first 50 years is a feature object.

This exhibition – the society’s contribution to the 2012 National Trust Heritage Festival – explores the ‘Amazing Stories’ of Willoughby’s contribution to the Australian entertainment industry. The municipality is well-known for its central role in the birth of the Australian television industry, but it has also been a centre for invention and innovation across many branches of the industry.



More details