Matthew Lombard, or Matt, has worked as a curator at the National Motor Museum since 2002. Asked about how he ended up working in this area Matt told us:
I was young and liked old things, strange eh! I guess my parents were relatively old when they had me – compared to most of my mates’ that is. My father was a WWII veteran, just. And my grandfather was a WWI veteran (although I never meet him). We are slow breeders apparently. Because of my parents’ age, things that were seen to be history were very much within my parents’ living memory, or had been told to my parents by my grandparents. When there was an interesting documentary on television, sometimes my mum but mainly my dad, would say something about it, and I guess I listened.
Why be a Curator, I’m not really sure, I guess because I liked history and old things, particularly engineering type things. Stuff that moved or had a purpose seemed to interest me the most. I was taught to drive my uncle’s traction engine at a young age. When he went onto collecting fire engines, at the age of eight, I actually had my own ‘real’ fire engine (well, at least I thought it was mine!).
Pathway to History SA
Matt came to work at the National Motor Museum after working in other similarly focussed museums.
I was working in Geelong, Victoria at the Ford Discovery Centre when a position came up at the National Motor Museum. I had never even heard of the History Trust of South Australia, but I did know what Birdwood was.
I’d really enjoyed my time at Ford , which was part of the Ford Motor Company of Australia, and by default an extension of Ford’s Product Development Department and Communications section. My time there taught me a lot about the car industry and the development of the car as an engineering exercise. I was lucky enough to be sent to Europe, Asia and North America, so I had a chance to see and experience a lot in the automotive and historic motor world. Before that, I’d worked at the Canterbury Museum in Christchurch, New Zealand which was where I got my grounding in museums. In the dark mists of time, I had also volunteered at Ferrymead Historic Park and the Royal New Zealand Airforce Museum.
His passion for historic vehicles is evident in his work and in the relationships he has developed with various motoring history organisations.
Day to Day
The role of Curator of the National Motor Museum is varied and requires many different skills.
I deal with the automotive collection, the Museum library and archives as well as the non-automotive collection, for example garagenalia. I also write text for displays and content published online and in publications. I also answer a myriad of questions and queries from the general public and motoring enthusiasts. No day is ever the same, which is good, mostly!
You’ll see Matt in action every time a vehicle needs moving, and he’s usually behind the scenes at all the National Motor Museum’s big events with the rest of the team making it all happen.
Asked what he enjoys most about his work, Matt told us:
While sometimes having to climb into a special car and move it, or occasionally drive it, can be a nice touch it really has to be the people you meet or engage with that makes it all worthwhile. They can be passionate owners of a particular marquee of vehicle, a famous or infamous ex racing driver, through to a grandmother with a few souvenirs from her youth. In the end, it is the people and their stories that is the most enjoyable thing. Finishing and opening a display exhibition is also a satisfying feeling.
With his extensive time working at the National Motor Museum, Matt has built up significant relationships with regular visitors, supporters and motor enthusiasts alike.
He’s also worked on some big projects during his career at the Museum. Asked about what he’d pick as the highlight, Matt had some trouble choosing:
I guess collectively, it would be the opening of the Sunburnt Country exhibition which we worked long and hard to get right. Its a magnificent exhibition.
Personally, seeing the Vanvooren bodied 1925 Rolls Royce for the first time ever is another highlight. As the garage door rose my jaw dropped. I walked around for the next five minutes kicking it along! Never in my dreams would I have believed that such a vehicle existed locally.
More on Matthew
Matt has been known to look after more than motor vehicles.
I assisted in the burial of two Victoria Cross winners. One was a double Victoria Cross winner. I was called in to get the state gun carriage ready for the state funerals. I got a couple of days off work each time. The first time around the Director questioned it; second time around he didn’t bat an eyelid when I told him that ‘the nation needs me’!
We’re glad to know our motoring history is in such safe hands.