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DISPLAYING POSTS BY: Rebecca Carland (2)

Hope Black honoured

Author
by Rebecca Carland
Publish date
7 March 2012
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Comments (4)

Bec is working on the history of Museum Victoria's Science Collections and all the people who have been part of them since the museum's origin in 1854.

Last night, twenty extraordinary women were inducted into the Victorian Women's Honour Roll at a ceremony in Parliament House. I was lucky enough to be invited to witness Curator Emeritus Hope Black join this group.

Hope Macpherson receiving award Hope Macpherson receiving her award at the Victorian Women's Honour Roll ceremony on 6 March 2012.
Image: R. Carland
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Each year, the Honour Roll recognises and celebrates inspirational women across Victoria who, through their vision, leadership, commitment and hard work, have made an exceptional contribution to their communities or areas of expertise.

Minister for Women’s Affairs the Hon Mary Wooldridge opened the events with this quote: "If your dreams do not scare you they are not big enough." These women, without exception, had big dreams.

Hope says she wasn't sure what she wanted to do "but it had to be zoology". In 1937, then 18-year-old Hope Macpherson successfully applied for a job at the museum. Initially, her role was to make biology cases and dioramas. Driven to progress further, she studied science part-time at Melbourne University. Shortly after she graduated in 1946, was promoted to Curator of Shells and, simultaneously, the museum's first female curator.

Hope Macpherson identifying shells Hope Macpherson identifying shells at the National Museum of Victoria, Melbourne, 1948 (MM 118931).
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Her fieldwork as curator took her to remote parts of the Australian coast and she was part of the first group of female scientists permitted to research in the sub-Antarctic.

Hope also led ground-breaking surveys of Port Phillip Bay from 1957-1963. That data is still used today by environmental scientists, managers and planners, providing a benchmark against which to monitor change.

MM 118931 Hope Macpherson and Dan Lynch sorting material on the jetty at yjr Quarantine Station, Port Phillip Survey, Victoria, 1959 (MM 118931).
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In addition to her scientific pursuits, Hope also pioneered specialist education programs by establishing a biology course for blind children held at the museum, using collection material.

Hope was required to resign from the Public Service when she married in 1965, as married women were excluded from employment in the service at that time. The forced change did not quell her drive. She retrained as a science teacher, passing on her passion for science to girls for 13 years.

Hope Macpherson running Photograph that captures Hope Macpherson mid-air while running, Wilsons Promontory, Victoria, 1950. (MM 118929)
Image: Charles Brazenor
Source: Museum Victoria
 

I have been privileged to work with Hope over the past couple of years, recording her history and acquiring personal working papers and images for the museum collection. After hearing her story and that of the other inductees I can only hope to be as fearless.

Links:

Victorian Women's Honour Roll

Hope Black nee Macpherson, Curator of Molluscs (1919 - )

Historian at the Prom

Author
by Rebecca Carland
Publish date
27 October 2011
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Comments (2)

Bec is working on the history of Museum Victoria's Science Collections and all the people who have been part of them since the museum's origin in 1854.

As a history curator, the dizziest height I usually get to is the top shelf of the archive. So flying over Wilsons Promontory with the Prom Bioscan team last week was a true adventure. 

My job, History of Science Collections Curator, often involves following the archive trail of past scientists to establish the what, where and how behind the specimens in our collections. The history of Wilsons Prom is interwoven with the history of Museum Victoria. Three former directors were instrumental in the establishment and ongoing development of the park. In the 1960s Charlie Brazenor led a museum team survey whose report initiated many of the park's innovations such as a permanent ranger/manager, proper signage and even a small museum at Tidal River.

1950 survey team at Wilsons Prom Charles Brazenor, Curator of Mammals and later Director (second from right) oversaw the museum survey in 1950.
Image: Hope McPherson
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The Prom Bioscan represents the next phase of the museum's work at the Prom so I just had to be there to document it. We hold some magnificent historic images of the Prom and it was also a great opportunity to re-shoot some of those locations to get a sense of how the park has changed over time.

Jim Whelan, former chief ranger at the Prom and local keeper of Prom history, has been gleefully working with me on a short history of field surveys at the Prom and was the ultimate guide on my travels.

Jim Whelan in a helicopter Jim Whelan, Operations Manager, Wilsons Prom Centre for Excellence sharing his knowledge of the Prom.
Image: Rebecca Carland
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We flew by helicopter from Tidal River over most of the park, skirting the coastline looking for the rock formations in the historic images I had brought with me. Some locations were simply too difficult to land so we had to hover over the trees and take the photos through the little window of the chopper. Other locations, like Mt Oberon car park, which can't be accessed by road since the floods, were the perfect spot to land the chopper and walk or bushbash to the spots we needed. Jim has every tree; every rock imprinted in his memory and the journey through his memories was as interesting as the chopper ride.

Our longest stop was at Sealers Cove. Having been there many times on foot it was spectacular to see the cove open up before us as we rounded the coastline.

Helicopter on beach Pilot Ed parked the chopper next to iconic Whale Rock on Sealers Cove beach.
Image: Rebecca Carland
Source: Museum Victoria
 

I wanted to find remnants of the old wooden tramway used by the mill in 1800s but the terrain was impenetrable. I did, however, find a couple of little wooden posts sticking out of the sand where the massive jetty that serviced the mill once stood. The jetty was built by King and McCulloch in 1903 and extended 800 metres into the cove.

Men on a jetty The Sealer's Cove jetty in the 1920s.
Source: Jan Phelan
 

Bec in the sand taking photo Bec Carland getting down and dirty photographing the remnants of Sealers Cove jetty.
Image: Anna McCallum
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The last remnants of the Sealers Cove jetty The last remnants of the Sealers Cove jetty.
Image: Rebecca Carland
Source: Museum Victoria
 

So today, back at my desk staring out at the Royal Exhibition Building I can still hear the sea and the echo of the radio calls from the chopper headphones buzzing in my ears and if I squint a bit, the cream REB against the blue sky looks a little like the sands of Sealers Cove. The recreated photos are looking good and some truly fascinating moments in the Prom's history are coming together as a series of videos for Collections Online.

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Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

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