MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: secrets of the museum (6)

Budj Bim rangers

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
20 June 2011
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Comments (2)

In March this year, MV scientists spent 10 days surveying the biodiversity of the Lake Condah area in a program called Bush Blitz. The project could never have happened without the collaboration and assistance of the Gunditjmara community, the Traditional Owners of Budj Bim lands around Lake Condah.

On Friday last week, the museum was pleased to return the hospitality and show a group of Budj Bim rangers and Traditional Owners around the collection stores and laboratories of the Natural Sciences Department.

Budj Bim rangers in store Budj Bim rangers in the Ornithology store, surrounded by the museum's collection of bird specimens.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Head of Sciences, Mark Norman, led a tour through the ornithology, entomology and marine collection stores. The bird collection was their favourite but the giant squid in its huge tank of ethanol was a special highlight too.

  Mark Norman showing the giant squid Mark Norman showing an amazing but somewhat pungent giant squid specimen.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Today’s visit was a chance to show the rangers what has happened to the Lake Condah specimens they helped to collect, and the sort of research done in the museum. We hope they’ll visit us again soon. Until then, here's a reminder of the significance of Lake Condah and the aquaculture practiced there by Gunditjmara people for thousands of years. In this video, Joseph Saunders explains eel farming and traditional life at Lake Condah.

 

Links:

Budj Bim National Heritage Landscape

Window cleaners

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
11 May 2011
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Comments (1)

Early this morning, there were a few people on the Melbourne Museum plaza staring at the front of the building, watching a team of abseilers cleaning the glass facade. It's quite amazing seeing people dangling off the building, especially when you're at your desk and an unexpected visitor drops in!

Crew of window cleaners Crew of window cleaners at work on the facade of Melbourne Museum.
Image: Forbes Hawkins
Source: Museum Victoria
 

window cleaners People on the plaza watching window cleaners at work.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Window cleaner at work A view from the inside: window cleaner at work at Melbourne Museum.
Image: Forbes Hawkins
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The crew will be onsite for a few days to clean all the hard-to-reach windows around Melbourne Museum.

Changing film at IMAX

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
20 March 2011
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Comments (2)

So you've bought your ticket and popcorn, picked up your 3D glasses and chosen your seat at IMAX Melbourne. For you, it's a time to sit back and relax. However, in the projection booth at the back of the cinema, it's a highly-skilled dash to prepare the next film for screening.

David Booty, Senior Technical Advisor for IMAX Melbourne Museum, might be the projectionist setting up your film. He's been in the IMAX business since 1988 and sometimes has just seven minutes between shows to change over the huge reels of IMAX film. In this video he tells us about the unique projection system while he's rushing around to set up the next show.

Behind the scenes

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
13 January 2011
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Comments (1)

Have you seen the Science and Life television commercial

We hung around on set and learned all sorts of useful things - what fake blood is made from, how much blood is too much, and exactly what attacks Bernard the security guard at night in the gallery...

After hours at Melbourne Museum

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
11 January 2011
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Comments (2)

What's this conservator doing?

Elizabeth holding a rope Elizabeth holding a rope...
Source: Museum Victoria
 

And this one?

 

Sam holding a rope Sam holding a rope...
Source: Museum Victoria
 

No, they're not flying giant kites in the Melbourne Museum foyer; they were carefully lowering our replica Duigan Biplane for cleaning last night.

  Lowering the Duigan Biplane Lowering the Duigan Biplane for cleaning.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This kind of large-scale work takes place once museum visitors have left. It means that conservators can work some strange hours!

Duigan Biplane cleaning The dusty Duigan back on the ground ready for cleaning.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The biplane was back up near the ceiling this morning, and the floor was clear for the return of the Deliverette, which has been in storage while the special Titanic exhibition desk occupied its place in the foyer.

Deliverette van Special delivery! The Deliverette van returning from the collection store.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

It's great to see this unique little van back in the building. It is a prototype small delivery vehicle designed in the late 1940s at the aircraft factory at Fishermen's Bend. The start of the Korean War halted its production. What a shame - the Deliverette would have been perfect for Melbourne's narrow laneways. Perhaps it could have become an iconic Melbourne vehicle like our trams.

Links:

Centennary of the Duigan Biplane's first flight

Deliverette on Collections Online

What's that smell?

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
4 January 2011
Comments
Comments (6)

Every now and then, those of us who work at Melbourne Museum receive a polite but slightly troubling email:

"The Preparation Department needs to undertake work today that may generate some odours."

I can’t think of another workplace where stench warnings are a regular occurrence. They’re intriguing, too, because I always wonder what they’re doing down there in the basement.

Our skilled preparators do much as their name would suggest: they prepare things, from animal specimens for research collections to intricate models for display. Their job combines elements of biology, taxidermy, sculpture and painting and their work area is a den of creativity and practicality that is stocked with tools and equipment and art supplies.

In mid-December, a Gray’s Beaked Whale (Mesoplodon grayi) unfortunately was stranded at Portland and died. Given the rarity of this species, and MV’s strength in the study of whales, its skeleton is a valuable addition to our research collection. The preparators perform the somewhat gruesome but necessary task of cleaning the skeleton, and that’s where the odour comes in.

Gloves hanging in the Preparation Department The Preparation Department's collection of rubber gloves - essential tools in this line of work.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Preparator Steven Sparrey explained the facilities in which large specimens are prepared. The specimens are placed in a sequence of water baths in the ominously named ‘maceration tank’ which allows the animal’s soft tissues to loosen away naturally from the bones without damaging them. It’s not pretty and it doesn’t smell good. After this, the bones are given a soapy wash and dried thoroughly.

Preparation Department The sealed room that holds the maceration tank (at the back) and cleaning benches.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Some astonishingly large vertebrae from the backbone of a whale were on the drying racks. These were prepared for the Melbourne Aquarium from another stranded animal. The bones were quite yellow and Steven explained that the stains are from the whale’s oils, and they would be bleached by the sun once they were properly dry.

Whale vertebrae drying Whale vertebrae in the drying racks.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Shortly after that, he firmly suggested that we leave the area because the smell tends to cling to clothing. Needless to say, he doesn’t wear his work clothes home on the train. So there you have it – perhaps not one of the most glamourous jobs at the museum, but an essential task to maintain Victoria’s collection of our state's fauna.

Links:

Model-making for Dynamic Earth

Climate change and whale evolution

Fossil unlocks secrets to the origin of whales

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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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