Dr Paul Donnelly

Associate Director – Museum Content, Chau Chak Wing Museum (incorporating the Macleay Museum, Nicholson Museum and University Art Collection)

BA Hons, USyd; MA Applied History, UTS Sydney; PhD USyd

Biographical details

For his Near Eastern honours thesis Paul studied and illustrated the ancient Egyptian amulets in the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. He enjoyed it so much he spent the next 26 years working there – initially in collection management from where he moved to different curatorial roles across the collection and including periods as Principal Curator. During this time he continued his archaeological research at University of Sydney excavations, notably Pella in Jordan where he has been a team member since 1989, and which was also a focus for his doctorate on a Bronze-Age fine ceramic called ‘Chocolate-on-White ware’. Paul is also a member of the renewed excavations at Zagora in Andros, Greece which was funded by an ARC grant to partners, University of Sydney, Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens, The Archaeological Society at Athens, and the Powerhouse (Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney).

Paul is an Honorary Associate of the Department of Archaeology and participates on the committees of the Near Eastern Archaeology Foundation (NEAF) at the University of Sydney, of which he is a Founding Member (1986) and currently Vice President; Committee Member of The Australiana Society (since 2005); and Council Member (MAAS rep) Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens (since 1995).

Research interests

  • Ancient Mediterranean material culture
  • Bronze Age ceramics of the Eastern Mediterranean.
  • Excavation and research involvement at Pella, Jordan; Zagora, Greece.
  • Numismatics esp. repurposed coinage as love tokens and political tokens.
  • History of architecture.
  • History of design, especially furniture.
  • Museum collections



Curator, ReCollect: Architectural models, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, September 2014-Februaruy 2015


Contributing curator, A Fine Possession: Jewellery in Australia, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, December 2014 - 2016


Curator, Seven Australian Designers, (with Anne-Marie Van de Ven) Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, July – November 2013


Coordinating curator, George Nelson: Architect, Writer, Designer, Teacher, from Vitra design Museum for Sydney Design 2013, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, July December 2013


Contributing curator, The Great Wall of China: Dragons, Dynasties, Warriors, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney


Coordinating curator, Other Histories: Guan Wei’s fable in a Contemporary World, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney


Curator, Greek Treasures from the Benaki Museum at Athens, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney


Curator, Beirut to Baghdad: Communities, Collecting and Culture, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney


Curator, 1000 Years of the Olympic Games: Treasures of Ancient Greece, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney


Curator, Wattan, Australian-Arabic Community Program funded by ICE and PHM (run by Alissar Chidiac), exhibitions and programs, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney


Curator, Convict Love Tokens at the Hyde Park Barracks Museum, Sydney

Selected Publications


Donnelly, P.F. (in press 2015). ‘Repurposed love’ in: B. Andrew and K. Dyer (eds.) Evidence, New South Books


Donnelly, P.F. (2012). Foreword in: Artware to Utility: MCP & Mingay ceramics, by T. Impey, Sydney


Donnelly, P.F. (2011). Coordinator and contributor ‘The 1960s chairs of Olivier Morgue and Pierre Paulin’; ‘Crown Corning 1970s-80s domestic glassware’; ‘The “Saco” bean bag and other anti-design furniture’; ‘The Braun SK4 “Phonosuper”’ in: A. Franklin, Retro: a Guide to the Mid-20th Century Design Revival, New South Books/PHM, Sydney


Donnelly, P.F. (2011). The State of Collecting in a State: Numismatics in NSW, Journal of the Numismatic Association of Australia, 21: 73-90


Donnelly, P.F. (2010). Contributor in: A. Franklin, Collecting the 20th Century, New South Books/PHM, Sydney


Donnelly, P.F. (2009). ‘In the public domain: an Iznik tile in the Powerhouse Museum’, The Asian Art Society of Australia Review, 18:2


Donnelly, P.F. (2009). ‘Alan Peascod: Influences & Dialogue’, Art Monthly Australia, 218. pp 35-37


Donnelly, P.F. (2008). ‘Col Levy’; in: John McPhee (ed.) Great Collections: treasures from Art Gallery of NSW, Australian Museum, Botanic Gardens Trust, Historic Houses Trust, MCA, Powerhouse Museum, State Library NSW, State Records NSW, Museums and Galleries, Sydney


Donnelly, P.F. (2008). Foreword, More People’s Potteries Stories, by D. Johnston, Sydney


Donnelly, P.F. (2005). ‘The 1938 London Guildhall Gift of Romano-British Antiquities’, in: G. Davidson and K. Webber (eds), Yesterday’s Tomorrows, PHM Publishing, Sydney


Donnelly, P.F. (2004). ‘Introduction: The Proclamation Era’ in: A. Crellin, The Proclamation Coinage of NSW, Monatarium/David Ell Publishing, Sydney, pp. 8-15


Donnelly, P.F. (2004). ‘Reorienting the Orient’, The Asian Art Society of Australia Review 13:3


Donnelly, P.F. (2004). ‘Chocolate-on-White ware: tomb and tell vessel typology at Pella’, Studies in the History and Archaeology of Jordan, 8:97 pp. 97-108


Donnelly, P.F., Fewster, K.) (2003). ‘1000 Years of the Olympic Games Exhibition’, in D. Pritchard (ed.) Sport and Festival in the Ancient Greek World, Classical Press of Wales. pp 365-76


Donnelly, P.F., Maxwell-Stewart, H., Millett, T. (2001). ‘Dr Martin and the Forty Thieves’, in: L. Frost, H. Maxwell-Stewart (eds.) Chain Letters: Convict  Narratives,  Melbourne University Press. pp. 177-89


Donnelly, P.F. (2001). ‘Chocolate-on-White Ware: towards a definition fifteen years on from Hennessy’, in A. Walmsley (ed.) Australians uncovering ancient Jordan, Sydney University & the Department of Antiquities of Jordan. pp. 249-58


Donnelly, P.F., Measham, T., Spitari, E. (2000). 1000 Years of the Olympics: Treasures of Ancient Greece, PHM Publishing, Sydney


Donnelly, P.F. (1999). ‘Egyptian Faience Amulets in the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences (Powerhouse Museum), Sydney’, Mediterranean Archaeology, Vol 12. pp. 75-88


Donnelly, P.F. (1998). ‘A Bracelet of Bright Haire”: Memory and Tokens’, in Michelle Field & Timothy Millett (eds.), Convict Love Tokens, Wakefield Press. pp. 53-66


Donnelly, P.F. (1997). ‘”When this you see, remember me”: Convict Love Tokens & Related   Keepsakes’.  Australasian Victorian Studies Journal, 3:1. pp. 22-37


Donnelly, P.F. (1995). ‘Tarnished Silver: Depicting Aborigines in Colonial Silver’, in E. Czernis-Ryl (ed.), Australian Gold and Silver, Powerhouse Publishing, Sydney1995 pp. 54-67