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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: smartbar (5)

Why we can't give a stuff

Author
by Alice
Publish date
29 April 2014
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Comments (1)

The Discovery Centre receives heaps of enquiries from budding enthusiasts eager to learn the art of taxidermy – it’s no surprise because Museum Victoria holds the largest collection of taxidermy mounts in the state.

behind the scenes Rows of taxidermy mounts hidden behind the scenes of the Melbourne Museum.
Image: Alice Gibbons
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Taxidermy is but one of many tasks performed by the multi-talented members of our preparation department. The preparators work purely on museum projects, combining skills in taxidermy, moulding, casting and model-making to enhance the state’s collections and research.

reptile moulds Reptile moulds and casts hand made by the preparation department.
Image: Alice Gibbons
Source: Museum Victoria

 

Seal model Sculpting and modelling a seal for permanent display.
Image: Alice Gibbons
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Only a fraction of the work that the preparation department performs makes its way to the public displays, with the majority of their work residing behind the scenes. Most animals coming into the museum join the research collections and don’t need to be prepared as life-like mounts; 90 per cent of the specimens prepared at the museum have data and tissue samples collected and are preserved as study skins and skeletons. These specimens become priceless tools in assisting scientists identify and compare new species, better understand the evolution of species over time, and research how we can conserve our fauna into the future.

Study skins Study skins used in the research collection.
Image: Alice Gibbons
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Skeletal remains Skeletons prepared for the research collection with the assistance of dermestid beetles.
Image: Alice Gibbons
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Due to the busy workload of our preparators, we are unable to provide personal advice to individuals about taxidermy. We are, however, bringing out our experts for the next Smart Bar to focus on the history, methods and tools of the craft. This Thursday 1 May, from 6-9pm our experts will explore the inside story of taxidermy with pop up talks and demonstrations.

Koala moulding Tools and measurements used in making a koala cast.
Image: Alice Gibbons
Source: Museum Victoria
 

exhibition maitenance Ongoing maintenance of exhibition material such as this interactive component from Think Ahead is a large part of the preparation departments workload.
Image: Alice Gibbons
Source: Museum Victoria
 

For those unable to attend, there is plenty of information available online through supply websites, online tutorials and forums. Commercial taxidermists can also be found in the Yellow Pages, and you may be lucky enough to find one who is willing to discuss their tricks of the trade. Formal tutelage in taxidermy is almost non-existent in Australia but getting involved in online forums and clubs is a great starting point to meet likeminded people and gain expert advice. Most of our preparators started out reading taxidermy books for beginners, many of which can still be found in local libraries.

Keep in mind that in Australia there are strict licencing protocols surrounding practicing taxidermy on native animals. For more information visit the Department of Environment and Primary Industries website.

Links:

Smart Bar: Stuffed

So many specimens

Amstrad on display during SmartBar

Author
by Siobhan
Publish date
12 May 2013
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So, it’s not as big or as flashy as CSIRAC (1949), but the real star of last week’s Smart Bar event here in the Discovery Centre was our Amstrad Portable Personal Computing device (1987).

Whilst CSIRAC has the weight of history, ground-breaking science, and several good-sized African elephants behind it, the Amstrad spoke to some more personal nostalgia for many of our visitors – sort of the difference between visiting St Paul’s Cathedral and going back to your primary school.

Spec  for spec, though, the Amstrad does outperform its big brother, inspiring this mini-comic for the #SmartBar hashtag!

Amstrad Amstrad vs CSIRAC
Image: Siobhan Motherway
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Just for fun, compare CSIRAC’s specs with this website’s run down on the Amstrad and then think about the cheapest wee netbook available at the local discount shop.

Obviously, CSIRAC occupies 40sqm, whereas the Amstrad comes under the category of “luggable” – it doesn’t compare to the power or portability of the phone in your jeans pocket, but at least you could haul it around one-handed whilst looking supercool – only those looking very closely would see the veins standing out and the sweat beading on your forehead.

We couldn’t match CSIRAC’s music, though, coaxing only a recalcitrant BEEP! out of the Amstrad when we asked it to do something outside of its parameters. Like, tell us the contents of the disk in the B: drive, apparently. Nevertheless, the sight of the grey plastic shell, green screen and blinking old-school DOS cursor had dozens of visitors crowding around the desk, reminiscing about their own first computers and exploits on local BBSs.

And now I’ll leave you with the most ambitious or optimistic attempt to put the Amstrad to use on the Smart Bar evening. Sorry, sir; apparently it does have an internal modem, but 2400bps and ASCII will only get you so far.

The Amstrad laptop in the Discovery Centre A valiant effort by a visitor to get the Amstrad to connect to the internet
Image: Siobhan Motherway
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Venom and phobias at SmartBar

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
23 July 2012
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SmartBar is returning to Melbourne Museum by popular demand! On 26 July from 6pm, the second adults-only SmartBar will focus on Mind and The Human Body. The Science and Life exhibitions will be open after dark with talks, displays, activities and music to boot.

The Live Exhibits crew were very popular at the first SmartBar and they are back again with a look at creatures that bite and sting, how venom interacts with the body, and how our minds can turn healthy wariness of venomous animals into debilitating phobias.

Australia is notorious for its venomous wildlife. Even our cute furry Platypus carries a poisoned spur that causes excruciating pain for any unfortunate human on its receiving end. But did you know that venom can have positive effects on humans too? The field of bioprospecting is uncovering new compounds from the venom of snakes, scorpions, centipedes and spiders that may help to treat cancer and many other diseases.

glowing scorpion Scorpions glow when viewed under ultraviolet light due to fluorescent chemicals in the cuticle. The bulb at the end of the tail can inflict a nasty sting.
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Arachnophobia – the fear of spiders – is the most common phobia in western society. You might think it's simple evolutionary common sense to fear something that can harm you. However, the lives of the truly arachnophobic are governed entirely by their relationship with spiders, leading some to risk their lives by jumping from moving cars and out of upper storey windows. For others, every daily decision, from the car they drive to where they live, is based on avoiding eight-legged critters.

Huntsman spider on screen door Huntsman spider on your screen door - a welcome friend or nightmarish visitor?
Image: PG Palmer
Source: Image courtesy of PG Palmer, as licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic.
 

MV's manager of Live Exhibits, Patrick Honan, likes spiders – especially the big black hairy ones. He has helped people face their arachnophobia through cognitive behaviour therapy, followed by a controlled process of desensitisation called exposure therapy. He'll be speaking at SmartBar about the root cause of our fear of spiders, and whether it's justified. Whether you're fond or fearful of spiders, Patrick's stories are not to be missed.

SmartBar's Brain, Mind, Eyes, Drinks and DJ event is on for one night only on 26 July 2012. For more information or to buy tickets online, head over to the SmartBar What's On listing.

Links:

MV Blog: First SmartBar round-up

SmartBar round-up

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
20 March 2012
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Comments (3)

On Thursday 1 March, hundreds of people gathered outside Melbourne Museum from 5pm, apparently as curious as we were to see what would happen at the adults-only SmartBar event.

Crowd at SmartBar at Melbourne Museum Crowd waiting outside Melbourne Museum for SmartBar to open.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The idea of adults-only museum events is not a new one, but it's new to Museum Victoria. All over the world, history and science museums like us witness the same pattern: young people in their twenties don't visit much. Many museums have started holding special events to cater for the interests of this group. The Australian Museum launched their Jurassic Lounge three summers ago and it's a hit in Sydney. Closer to home, NGV and ACMI have launched successful adult programs, but would such a thing work for us?

Mark Norman with a female argonaut Mark Norman talking about strange sex in the deep blue sea. Here he shows the SmartBar crowd a female argonaut or paper nautilus.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

David Perkins works in the museum's Public Programs department and helped organise SmartBar. "The whole point was to find if people were interested in coming to this type of event," says David, "And they were, more so that we ever expected." Online tickets sold out days in advance and people waited patiently to grab the last remaining door tickets. Over 1,000 people attended SmartBar and we were delighted that 83% of the audience were between 18 and 34 years old.

Erich Fitzgerald talking to the SmartBar crowd Erich Fitzgerald addressing the age-old question: just how accurate was Jurassic Park?
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

"The presentations were the most popular thing," says David. The talks covered the bizarre sex lives of deep-water animals, spotlights on specimens and chats with preparators, curators and animal keepers. They all had a blast giving visitors direct access to the museum's research activity and to talk about their work. The Science and Life Galleries became a social space and all kinds of enthusiasts came out of the woodwork, many of them commenting that they liked being in the museum with no kids around.

Crowd at SmartBar at Melbourne Museum Bird's eye view of the crowd watching Wayne's demonstration in the Science and Life Gallery.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

The phenomenal success of SmartBar is encouraging and the museum is exploring how we can hold it regularly. Because we weren't sure what to expect, there were a lot of surprises – mostly good, but there were some aspects that we didn't get right. The queues at the door were too long and it was difficult to get the sound right in the Science and Life Gallery with so much going on. A survey, a comment board and feedback on Twitter, provides us with lots of information about what to improve next time, and what was spot-on. We'd like to thank everyone who gave us feedback as it will help us get things right in the future. At this stage we are planning to have four a year to follow the seasons – so watch out for our winter SmartBar.

Nearly a quarter of the attendees had never been to Melbourne Museum before. What was it about this event that attracted them? And what has stopped them in the past? David thinks the focus was just right for this crowd. "Adult education is a dirty phrase. If you asked a bunch of people to sit in a class after work, it would be a hard sell. But if it's easy and casual you can take it at your own pace. You have a nice night and you've learned something."

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Comments from the pinboard on Pinterest

SmartBar photos on Melbourne Museum's Facebook page

SmartBar at Melbourne Museum

Author
by Linda Sproul
Publish date
21 February 2012
Comments
Comments (6)

SmartBar logo SmartBar logo
Source: Museum Victoria
 

On March 1, Melbourne Museum will be presenting SmartBar – an evening event for adults featuring talks by museum scientists and interactive experiences.

As part of the event, the dissection of a road-killed bird will occur to demonstrate how Museum Victoria researchers study these sorts of animals that are brought in by concerned members of the public. This process increases our understanding of animal health, diet, welfare and conservation. The information we gain from this type of research is critical for our understanding of issues that impact Victorian fauna such as climate change and human activities.

SmartBar will provide Museum Victoria a chance to introduce people to the work of the museum, first hand. Beyond our exhibitions, we undertake important and ongoing research to learn more about our fauna, with a view to helping inform its conservation into the future. At SmartBar, we're giving people a chance to learn about some of that work and meet some of our staff in an informal setting. We're hoping this attracts an audience who would not normally attend Melbourne Museum so they too can become passionate, informed and respectful of Victoria and Australia's wildlife.

In earlier communications we described the event in a way which was misinterpreted by some readers. We apologise for any confusion or anxiety this may have caused and would like to thank everyone who has given us feedback on the SmartBar event.

Links:

SmartBar

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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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