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The Art of the Possible

This major JCPML exhibition was officially opened by the Governor of Western Australia, His Excellency Lieutenant General John Sanderson, AC, on the 14 February 2005 and was open to the public until December 2007 in the Wesfarmers Gallery, Building 200A, Curtin University of Technology.

Read the text of the Governor’s speech.

This exhibition explores Australia’s growing independence in the realm of foreign policy from 1935 to 1950. Under World War Two Prime Minister John Curtin’s skilled and pragmatic leadership, Australia’s refusal to see itself as a colonial outpost serving only British interests created the possibility of a new direction in foreign policy.

View the online version of The art of the possible.

Exhibition essay

Find out more about foreign policy during the first half of the 20th century by delving into the in-depth essay written by JCPML Historical Consultant David Black which formed the basis of the exhibition.

Education program

The JCPML offers a range of education programs for primary and secondary students which include activities associated with the exhibition.

Exhibition team

Curator: Lesley Carman-Brown, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library
John Davies, Insight Communication and Design
Project Management:
Kandy-Jane Henderson, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library
Curatorial advisor and essay author: Professor David Black, JCPML Historical Consultant
Curatorial and research assistance:
Heather Campbell, researcher
Lesley Wallace and David Wylie, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library.
Graphic design:
Carolyn Selfe, Insight Communication and Design
Video production:
Perth Theatre Company
Learning Support Network, Curtin University of Technology
Educational activities: Rosslyn Marshall, John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


The art of the possible: Creating an independent Australian foreign policy exhibition is supported by Australia Post, Curtin Library and Information Service and Drs Ian and Helen Fairnie.

With thanks to

John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library donors
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade which provided the working papers of Documents on Australian Foreign Policy 1937-1949.
ACP Publishing
Australia Post
Australian War Memorial
Australiana Fund
Fairfax Photos
Fremantle Light & Sound Discovery Centre
Frith family
H A & C Glad
Imperial War Museum
Justice Nicholas Hasluck
MacArthur Memorial Library & Archives
Menzies Virtual Museum
National Archives of Australia
National Library of Australia
Brian Pope
Roosevelt Presidential Library
State Library of Victoria
United Kingdom Public Records Office
United Nations Library
Greg Wallace
West Australian News Ltd.