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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: mmdc (25)

National Sorry Day

Author
by Katrina
Publish date
27 May 2012
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Your Question: What does National Sorry Day commemorate?

From the late 1800s up to the early 1970s, the Australian government implemented the systematic removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families through a range of assimilation and 'protection policies'. In Victoria, for example, the Aborigines Protection Act 1869 had the broad powers to make laws for 'the care, custody and education of the children of Aborigines'. However these policies were solely based on the premise of race, with the aim to absorb or assimilate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children of mixed descent into the non-Aboriginal community. Not only did these policies have lasting affects on families and community, but they were also active in suppressing Aboriginal languages and culture. Today, the people affected by the government removal policies are remembered as the Stolen Generations.

Australian Human Rights Commissions Bringing them Home Report 1997 Australian Human Rights Commission's Bringing them Home report, 1997.
Image: Cover Photo: Heide Smith, ‘Story Time’
Source: Australian Human Rights Commission
 

In 1997 the Howard Government released the Bringing them Home report as a recognition and tribute to the many families affected by forced removal. The main finding of the report was that 'between one in three and one in ten Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families and communities in the period from approximately 1910 to 1970'. The report recommended that the first step in healing is the acknowledgement of truth and the delivery of an official apology, which was provided by Kevin Rudd in 2008.

Another recommendation was that a National Sorry Day should be declared. National Sorry Day was first held on 26 May, 1998; exactly one year after the Bringing them Home report had been published. It encourages Australian society to acknowledge the impact of the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, which is still felt by families and communities today. This annual event is marked with marches, speeches and presentations being held throughout the country, all of which aim to highlight the rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians and a commitment to reconciliation.

Got a question? Ask us!

Links

National Sorry Day Committee

Reconciliation Australia

Share Our Pride

Australian Human Rights Commission

Carpets vanishing before your eyes

Author
by Simon
Publish date
15 May 2012
Comments
Comments (1)

Your Question: What is eating my carpets?

Some of us with a wool or wool blend carpet have had the unpleasant experience of noticing our carpets slowly receding from the wall. Closer inspection of this phenomenon shows numbers of hairy carpet beetle larvae to be the cause of the loss.

Varied carpet beetle Varied carpet beetle
Image: e_monk
Source: Used under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 from e_monk
 

There are a number of different species of introduced and native carpet beetles.  As adults carpet beetles are small and usually dark, often with patterned scales on the body. The adults feed on pollen and can often be found on the window ledge trying to get outside to feed. The larvae can often be hard to see so finding the adults on window ledges can be a good pointer as to the likely presence of the larvae. As the adults feed on pollen, they won’t cause damage to property but of course will be looking to lay more eggs to maintain the population.

Despite their common name, these tenacious insects will feed on a variety of things such as carcasses, feathers, felt, textiles of an organic nature and pet hair.

Anthrenus verbasci Carpet beetles Anthrenus verbasci on a flower head
Image: Ombrosoparacloucycle
Source: Used under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 from Ombrosoparacloucycle
 

These beetles can originate in bird or mammal nesting which may be in the roof or walls from where the larvae and adults find their way down into the house. Neither the larvae nor the adult beetles bite people but if left unchecked they do have the ability to cause damage to a variety of objects containing organic matter such as carpets, felt on pianos, clothing made from wool, insect collections and animal mounts. There is also the possibility for the shed larval skins to cause some irritation to people.

  Dermestidae: Anthrenus sp (larva) Dermestidae: Anthrenus sp (larva).
Image: Jacobo Martin
Source: Used under Creative Commons CC BY-NC 2.0 from JMDN
 

While these small beetles do a great job in nature of helping to break down and consume organic matter it is wise to prevent them from dining out on your expensive woollens. Undertake regular vacuuming concentrating under furniture or areas that are not often disturbed. Keep an eye out for any build up of pet hair and lint which can also support populations of these beetles.

Got a question? Ask us!

Links:

CSIRO: Guide to the control of clothes moths and carpet beetles.

CSIRO: Carpet Beetles 

What does megafauna mean?

Author
by Wayne
Publish date
29 April 2012
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Comments (2)

Your Question: What does the word megafauna mean?

The name megafauna means ‘big animals’, generally animals with a body mass of over 40 kilograms. Much of the time, megafauna is general term used to describe a particular group of large land animals that evolved millions of years after the dinosaurs became extinct. The extinction of dinosaurs 65 million years ago left a void of large land animals worldwide. Over millions of years, the surviving mammals, birds and reptiles evolved to include some very large animals. This group of megafauna was at their largest and most widespread during the Quaternary Period, in the last 2.5 million years.

  Diprotodon skull The skull and upper body of Diprotodon, the largest marsupial to have lived
Image: Michelle McFarlane
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Australia’s Quaternary megafauna were unique, and included giant marsupials such as Diprotodon, huge flightless birds such as Genyornis (a distant relative to today’s ducks and geese) and giant reptiles such as Varanus ‘Megalania’ (related closely to living goannas and the Komodo Dragon), all three of which are displayed in Melbourne Museum’s Dinosaur Walk exhibition - despite the fact these animals are not dinosaurs at all.

Thylacoleo skeleton The skeleton of Thylacoleo, the so-called marsupial 'lion'
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Some more examples of Australian megafauna are also on display in the adjoining exhibition at Melbourne Museum called 600 Million Years: Victoria evolves, such as the curious-looking Zygomaturus and Palorchestes (both relatives of Diprotodon), the carnivorous Thylacoleo (sometimes called a marsupial ‘lion’), and some megafaunal relatives of kangaroos and wallabies such as Protemnodon.

  Zygomaturus skeleton The skeleton of Zygomaturus, a Rhinoceros-like marsupial
Image: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

It is worth noting that not all megafauna are extinct – Australia has living megafauna in the form of Red and Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Saltwater Crocodiles, some of which are on display in the Wild: Amazing animals in a changing world exhibition, which is also in the Melbourne Museum Science and Life Gallery.

Got a question? Ask us!

Links:

Video, Studying Megafauna Fossils

Book, Prehistoric Giants: The Megafauna of Australia, published by Museum Victoria

Who’s been eating my Easter Eggs?

Author
by Nicole K
Publish date
13 April 2012
Comments
Comments (3)

Your Question: Who or what has been eating my Easter Eggs?

This week, the Discovery Centre was sent some pictures of Easter eggs. It's a sad story: they'd been gnawed, and not by their rightful owner (who was very interested to find out who the culprit was).

Gnawed Easter chocolates Gnawed Easter chocolates
Image: Anonymous
Source: Anonymous
 

Usually we need to see a specimen or a photograph of an animal in order to identify it, but the chocolate thief had left behind a clue – teeth marks.

Gnawed Easter chocolate Gnawed Easter chocolate
Image: Anonymous
Source: Anonymous
 

We sent the photographs to Museum Victoria's Senior Curator of Mammals. He examined the marks and reported that they had been made by the incisors of a small rodent, most likely a House Mouse, Mus musculus. His identification came with another sad story – his own chocolate Bilby had suffered the same fate!

A House Mouse, <i>Mus musculus</i> A House Mouse, Mus musculus
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Rodents have very distinctive teeth – a pair of incisors in the upper jaw and another pair in the lower jaw. The incisors grow continuously (like our fingernails), so rodents have to do a lot of gnawing to grind them down. In fact, the name "rodent" comes from the Latin words "gnaw" (rodere) and "tooth" (dentis). The gnawing process also acts to sharpen the incisors.

The skull of a House Mouse, <i>Mus musculus</i> The skull of a House Mouse, Mus musculus
Image: Marnie Rawlinson, Cathy Accurso and Ken Walker
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Wild House Mice are primarily granivorous (they eat grains and seeds), but they will eat almost anything. It seems that, like us, they love chocolate.

Happy Easter House Mice!

Got a question? Ask us!

Links:

Introduced Rodents

Collections Online: Easter

Beyond Bunjilaka

Author
by Katrina
Publish date
9 April 2012
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Your Question: Now that the Jumbunna exhibition space in Bunjilaka has closed, what Aboriginal cultural experiences can I have?

The exhibition space 'Jumbunna', part of the Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre at the Melbourne Museum has closed for an exciting redevelopment of the space.

Former exhibitions in Jumbunna include Koori Voices, Belonging to Country and Two Laws. The redevelopment will see a stronger focus on the vibrant and living Victorian Aboriginal culture and will provide dynamic and contemporary experiences as well as showcasing items from the incredible Aboriginal cultural material collection held in trust by Museum Victoria. The gallery will remain closed for redevelopment until mid-2013; however, Bunjilaka remains open, hosting a range of Aboriginal experiences.

Birrarung Birrarung
Image: James Henry
Source: Museum Victoria

Birrarung Gallery, located in the Bunjilaka, is a space dedicated to Victorian Aboriginal artists and is where you can experience some of the best Aboriginal artists in Australia, showcasing their culture and talent through various art forms, from painting and photography to 3D installation and audio visual. This space has three exhibitions a year and is currently exhibiting River Woman by Aunty Barb Egan, which explores her connection to her home of Robinvale, in the northwest of Victoria, and to the Murray River through a series of lino prints, embossing and painting.

‘River Woman’ exhibition in Birrarung River Woman exhibition in Birrarung
Image: James Henry
Source: Museum Victoria

Aunty Barb Aunty Barb
Image: James Henry
Source: Museum Victoria

Bunjilaka also has an indigenous plant garden called Milarri. This will remain open for visitors to learn about the natural resources important to Aboriginal people of southeastern Australia and about their traditional uses. Melbourne Museum's Forest Gallery, also displaying indigenous plants and animals, is another space where you can learn creation stories of Melbourne and about the seasons of the Kulin calendar, traditionally used by the Aboriginal people of Melbourne and surrounds.

Aunty Barb in her studio Aunty Barb in her studio
Image: Kimberley Moulton
Source: Museum Victoria

The Koori Voices exhibition is currently being de-installed and will be re-installed within the museum for visitors to experience by July 2012. Bunjilaka's weekend and holiday programs will be run throughout the year and can be viewed on the Melbourne Museum and Bunjilaka websites.

The education sessions 'Our Shared History' is still available and can be booked through the museum booking office. Our Shared History is an opportunity for visitors to learn about the history and diversity of Australia's Aboriginal cultures, with a strong focus on Victoria and southeastern Australia. Learn about Victoria's 38 language groups, Aboriginal usage of both indigenous flora and fauna, and many other facets of Victoria's vibrant Aboriginal cultures.

From April 21 through to June 24, Bunjilaka will be hosting a fun weekend activity for children called 'Bunjil's Bullroarers'. Children and their families will have an opportunity to learn about, make and decorate their very own bullroarer. The bullroarer is a traditional musical instrument used by Aboriginal people for communication and ceremonial purposes.

Got a question? Ask us!

Links

River Woman exhibition

Caroline Chisholm's scrapbook

Author
by Max
Publish date
25 March 2012
Comments
Comments (1)

Your Question: What did Caroline Chisholm do behind the Shelter Shed?

A bit of scrapbooking apparently...

Having such a large online presence, as Museum Victoria has, we in the Discovery Centre are always asked if we can provide copies of the brochures, passenger lists, workshop manuals, etc, that feature in our massive Internet Empire. In order to satisfy this demand, we have to apply subtle pressure on a variety of curators, collection managers and photographers, in order to have these articles scanned.

Caroline Chisholm's scrapbook A page from Caroline Chisholm's scrapbook.
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria
 

However, in the case of Caroline Chisholm’s scrapbook, we can casually point out to the inquisitive enquirer, that by scrolling down the webpage, they will see the heading ‘Downloads’ followed by ‘Caroline Chisholm’s Scrapbook PDF 129.3 Mb’. Eureka! This unique piece of Australia’s history can be all yours at the click of a button. Now, at your leisure, you can peruse the pages of Caroline’s life and works.

Caroline Chisholm scrapbook, circa 1844-1861 Caroline Chisholm scrapbook, circa 1844-1861
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Who attended the ‘Soiree to Mrs. Chisholm’? Prince Albert did, that’s who. As did ‘The Ladies who have honoured us with their company’. Is one of your ancestors on ‘Mrs. Chisholm’s List of Missing Friends’? Margaret Lyons was looking for her brother Luck Lyons; Mrs. Tipple couldn’t find her husband Thomas Tipple and Mr. Wright could not be found which left his ‘Wife in great distress with six children’. And what did Charles Dickens say about Mrs. Chisholm? The answer can be found on ‘page 12’.

Caroline Chisholm scrapbook, circa 1844-1861 Caroline Chisholm scrapbook, circa 1844-1861
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Caroline Chisholm’s scrapbook is not the only scanned item available for download on our website, but it is a particular favourite of mine. Thanks to the unsung heroes of the museum – the MV Studios folk who scan these wonderful items, all your questions can now be answered. We salute you!

UPDATE!  The Caroline Chisholm Scrapbook has been digitised and is now fully accessible online and can be seen here!

Got a question? Ask us!

Links 

Caroline Chisolm's scrapbook

Australian Dictionary of Biography 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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