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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: house secrets (4)

Meet Me at the Museum episode 3

Author
by Dr Andi
Publish date
5 January 2012
Comments
Comments (2)

Welcome to another episode of 'Meet Me at the Museum', the video series about our collection.

In episode three we return to House Secrets to take a fascinating look at the little-known past of a common domestic object.

Let us know what you think in the comments section. And be sure to catch up on the whole series if you haven't already.

 

Watch this video with a transcript.

Meet Me at the Museum

Author
by Dr Andi
Publish date
18 November 2011
Comments
Comments (9)

Do you have about five minutes? Great! Come and “Meet Me at the Museum”. It’s a new online video series about items from the Museum Victoria collection.

Objects and specimens always have a few fascinating people moments. We glimpse at those moments and marvel at the objects.

Here's episode one.

 

Watch this video with a transcript.

Five things about microwaves

Author
by Dr Andi
Publish date
2 June 2011
Comments
Comments (6)

I was reminded by my mother the other day that I had once refused to eat microwaved food. It was the 1970s and I’m not sure if it was teenage rebellion or whether I was spooked by the thought of microwaves. Here are five things about microwaves - some are spooky but some are fascinating.

1. In 1945 Percy Spencer had an “Aha!” moment after a melted lolly. Percy was doing military research on radars when he noticed that the peanut choc treat in his pocket had totally melted. It was the first item of food to ever be microwaved and luckily it was a lab accident that ended well. He realised the goo in his pocket was due to the modified radio waves - or microwaves - that he was working on.

Early microwave oven An early commercial microwave on display at the House Secrets exhibition. This is a 1959 Swedish Husqvarna, Electronic 2001 ‘Cupol’. (I suppose the number ‘2001’ must have seemed like a space age term in 1959).
Image: Andi Horvath
Source: Museum Victoria


2. The mid 1970s became a microwave bonanza and they began selling like hot cakes. Up until then, microwaves had been used in the food industry, restaurants and even submarines. But it wasn’t until the various components, including the new microprocessor, had come down in price and early myths about radiation were dispelled that the commercial domestic market finally took off.

Microwave sales display A salesman looking to make a bonanza of a commission. From the State Electricity Commission of Victoria collection, Museum Victoria. (MM 009529).
Source: Museum Victoria
 

 

3. Microwaves work by jiggling water and fat molecules. A rather unattractive metal box called a ‘magnetron’ is at the heart of every microwave oven; the rest is just insulated casing. The magnetron generates the microwaves that jiggle molecules so fast that they heat up the food.

  Magnetron The magnetron - rather a good name for a super hero or a grunge band, don’t you think?
Image: Andi Horvath
Source: Museum Victoria
 


4. Some things don’t belong in a microwave oven. The House Secrets exhibition at Scienceworks has a display of things not to microwave because it destroys your appliance. We sacrificed a number of microwaves making this film so you don’t have to ruin yours. So don’t try this at home.

Microwave display at House Secrets The video of microwave mistakes is inside a microwave in the House Secrets exhibition. Marshmallow will puff up and then flump, thin metal creates mini lighting (electricity arcs form between the metal and the microwave) and an unpierced egg will explode due to build up of steam.
Image: Andi Horvath
Source: Museum Victoria
 

 

5. Making a tasty gourmet meal in a microwave oven is still a challenge. The pictures in 1970s cookbooks always seem rather unappetising – perhaps the food stylist’s profession was in its infancy. When I asked around the office, most people told me they just use their microwaves to heat things. Perhaps if MasterChef runs a microwave cooking challenge it may inspire people to give it a go.

1970s microwave cookbook Are those chicken skewers with lemon pieces? It doesn’t seem to me to be a microwave thing but maybe that’s why they chose it for the cover: to surprise you. This 1970s microwave cookbook is on display in the House Secrets exhibition.
Image: Andi Horvath
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Five things about milk containers

Author
by Dr Andi
Publish date
25 May 2011
Comments
Comments (9)

The other day when I went out for some milk, I passed by a shop window display and noticed some lovely ceramic jugs in the shape of cardboard milk cartons and a range of colourful silicon rubber versions of paper coffee cups. All these iconic containers in unexpected materials! It got me thinking about my milk and my milk carton I just purchased. Here are five things from Museum Victoria about milk containers...

1. In 1860s Europe, if you wanted milk, the only milk container was a cow or possibly a metal milk can. By the 1870s, Europe saw the emergence of large metal milk cans. I found some old milk cans in the MV collection but then I stumbled across this beautifully decorated milk can from our Immigration and Creative Practice Collection.

Milk can Milk Can, painted by Yoka Van Den Brink, 1993, using Hindeloopen craft techniques which date back to the 16th century port of Hindeloopen, in Friesland, North of Holland. (SH 931248)
Image: Taryn Ellis
Source: Museum Victoria
 

(I also just had to show you this intriguing image...)

Cream Separator International Harvester McCormick-Deering 3-S Cream Separator with Female Model, 1939. (MM 115002)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

2. Glass superseded metal. Some of you will remember the glass milk bottle. Invented in 1884, it meant milk could be stored for several days without spoilage because bottles could be sterilised, plus pasteurised milk (quickly heated and cooled) restricted bacterial contamination.

  two glass milk bottles Left: How cute is the Imperial half pint milk bottle from the Gilchrist Dairy, Fitzroy in use between 1930 and 1959? (HT 14148) Right: One imperial pint milk bottle painted white on the inside; we didn’t put the actual milk in the collection. (ST 038370).
Image: L: Cherie McKeich and Eloise Coccoli R: Unknown
Source: Museum Victoria
 

3. In 1915, John Van Wormer cried over split milk because it also involved broken glass (fair enough). He turned his frustration into an idea of a ‘paper bottle’ that had to be folded, glued and dipped in paraffin wax. He was granted the patent and ten years later he also had a machine to form, fill and seal the new ‘Pure-pak’ containers.

 

4. Plastic convenience superseded wax. In the 1940s the paraffin wax was replaced by polyethylene plastic. But the milk carton did not catch on until the 1960s when cartons included a new feature: the open-able spout.

 

Pura milk carton
A one litre carton of milk, branded Pura, manufactured by National Dairies Limited. Looks familiar? It only entered the MV collection in 2010. Just like the milk bottles it will be kept for future generations to marvel at. (HT 27262).
Image: Matilda Vaughan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

5. It's possible we've gone full circle. If John Von Wormer were alive he would chuckle at this funky domestic accessory. I don’t think he would use it as a milk jug for coffee, I reckon he’d use it as a vase.

Glass Half Pint Milk Carton - Milk Jug Glass Half Pint Milk Carton - Milk Jug
Source: Rockett St George
 

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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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