Learning resources for Exposed! The story of swimwear

Annette Kellerman in a modified bathing suit. Annette Kellerman in her modified bathing suit with tights 1910 Reproduced courtesy George Grantham Bain Collection Library of Congress News Service

This exhibition explores the history of swimwear design within an Australian and global context since the early 1900s. It features the contributions of swimmers, designers and manufacturers in the development of functional and fashionable swimsuits in response to body image, the environment, competition swimming and the emergence of an iconic Australian swimming culture.

The exhibition is arranged in five subthemes:

  1. Images of perfection – examines the concept of the bathing beauty.
  2. Visionary Venus – examines the role of Annette Kellerman as a role model.
  3. Evolution of the swimsuit – the change from bathing to swimming, responses to body image, fashion trends and innovations in textile technology.
  4. A nation of swimmers – the development of a distinctly Australian style.
  5. Future vision Capsule collections and Woollen Mermaids – collections from contemporary Australian designers.

Teacher Resources

Extensive two-part Teacher Resources expand on each of these five subthemes and provide stimulus for before and/or after visit learning experiences. The Teacher Resources provide images, content summaries, focus questions, activities and curriculum links.

Men's swimwear 1930s Advertising flyer for Janzten men’s swimwear 1930s. Australian National Maritime Museum Collection Gift from Peter O’Sullivan

Visiting as a group

  • Entry to this exhibition is FREE.
  • Student preparation prior to entry is recommended. Please view Teacher Resources.
    To make a group booking, visit School & group booking.

Queensland Curriculum links

This exhibition support components of the Queensland Curriculum.

Years 1-9

  • SOSE: Time, Continuity and Change; Culture and Identity.
  • Technology: Technology as a Human Endeavour; Elements & Principles of Design; Product Design.
  • The Arts – Visual Art: Making Images and Objects: Art Ideas, Skills and Processes; Art in Society.
  • English: Reading and Viewing; Writing and Designing.

PIX magazine cover image 1954 PIX magazine cover image 1954

Senior Syllabus (Years 10, 11, 12)

  • SOSE: Time, Continuity and Change; Culture and Identity.
  • History
  • Technology: Textile Technologies; Technology Materials; Technology Process; Elements and Principles of Design; Product Design and Sequence.
  • The Arts – Visual Art: Media Areas: Fibre Art, Wearable Art and Body Adornment, Design and Curatorial Design, Graphic Design and Illustration, Product Design.
  • English: Attitudes and Values; Understanding and responding to contexts.

Woollen Mermaid design by Zimmermann Woollen Mermaid design by Zimmermann