MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Apr 2011 (17)

Royal mugs

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
29 April 2011
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Comments (1)

The wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton is dominating the media at present but I imagine it's keeping the souvenir industry just as busy. Commemorative tea towels, spoons, biscuit tins and more are issued at every royal milestone. Some people are serious collectors of royal memorabilia while others of us merely dabble, often for its kitsch value.

Like many workplaces, staff at the museum tend to have a favourite, personal coffee mug. There are not one, not two, but three much-loved royal wedding coffee mugs belonging to people who work in the online department:

  three mugs Staff coffee mugs commerating three separate royal weddings.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

But wait... have a close look at the mug on the right... that's not Prince William!

Do you have any royal memorabilia? Why do you think it is so popular?

Links:

Royal wedding commemorative medals on Collections Online

Skeletons of sea cucumbers

Author
by Blair
Publish date
28 April 2011
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I learned this week that sea cucumbers slink along the sea floor with a hidden skeleton. Known to most of us as those sloppy, sausage-like things that sometimes wash-up on our beaches, sea cucumbers are pretty much a tube of muscle with a mouth at one end and an anus at the other. Underwater, they bury in sand or camouflage themselves against rocky reefs.

sea cucumber A colourful sea cucumber (or holothuroid).
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Rather than running through the middle of the body, the skeleton effectively surrounds the body to reinforce the muscular body tube. It is made up of tiny structures called ossicles, which can be fifty times smaller than a millimetre. They are like miniature fish scales, but more intricate in design and not usually visible. Some of the structures make some animals sticky to touch.

Here’s an example of the ossicles of an Antarctic species:

Sea cucumber ossicles Ossicles from Sigmodota contorta, a species misidentified under about ten different names. Wheel and hook forms on the left from the body wall, and branched rods on the right from the tentacles.
Source: O’Loughlin and VandenSpiegel (2010) Memoirs of Museum Victoria 67: 61–95.
 

These weird and spectacular structures vary in form. Not only do they prevent the body from turning into a mush of intestine and muscle, but they are also a microscopic key to identify many species – so don’t be too disappointed if you can’t identify a sea cucumber when diving or looking in a rock pool!

Oh and if you're interested...

Sea cucumbers belong to a group of animals called holothuroids, part of the wider group of echinoderms – more commonly known for its sea stars and sea urchins. MV Honorary Associate Mark O’Loughlin is a world expert in identifying sea cucumbers. He has shown me a few tricks of the trade on his way to describing over 20 new species in recent years from Victoria and its neighbouring oceans. He is currently sorting out whether the common local species, Paracaudina australis, is actually multiple undescribed species. His work was recently published in the Memoirs of Museum Victoria.

Links:

O’Loughlin, P. Mark and Didier VandenSpiegel. A revision of Antarctic and some Indo-Pacific apodid sea cucumbers (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea: Apodida) Memoirs of Museum Victoria 67: 61-95 (2010)

Question of the Week: Aboriginal-Indonesian trade in sea cucumber

Reef Education Network: Sea cucumbers

Rehousing project

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
24 April 2011
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Aston looking happy Aston Gibbs, Acting Manager, Collection Location Systems.
Image: Emma Hutchinson
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Why is Aston so happy? She’s jubilant at the completion of the History and Technology Lantern Slide Collection Rehousing project!

Collection managers, database gurus, History and Technology curators, conservators, photographers and many others joined in a huge, coordinated project to rehouse the museum’s entire lantern slide collection – that’s over 10,000 individual items – into new, custom-made storage systems. Lorenzo Iozzi, senior collection manager for the image and AV collections, has been coordinating this mammoth task for months, culminating in an intensive, week-long effort to ready the collection for its move from Scienceworks to collection stores at Melbourne Museum.

Eloise Coccoli Eloise Coccoli, Assistant Curator for Collections Online, keeping the lantern slides in order.
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Emma Collection Registration Officer Emma Hutchinson with the new storage system for the lantern slides.
Image: Lorenzo Iozzi
Source: Museum Victoria
 

photographing lantern slides Staff photographing lantern slides.
Image: Ria Green
Source: Museum Victoria
 

MV's lantern slides are a fascinating, eclectic snapshot of all manner of topics from the Victorian era to the early 20th century. Comprising a light source, a lens and a transparent image, magic lanterns were the precursor to the slide projector and were very popular entertainment before the advent of film. Some of the more complicated projectors had multiple lenses and projected slides with intricate moving components. The video below demonstrates a magic lantern show.

The museum's collection has come from a number of sources; the Francis Collection, containing over 5500 items relating to pre-cinematic technology, comprises is a large portion of it. Before the relocation project, some lantern slides were stored in wooden crates that were as old as the slides themselves, unregistered and inadequately described simply because there were so many of them.

It’s a huge achievement for all involved:

  • they rehoused, registered and barcoded the entire collection of 10,600 lantern slides
  • they photographed 3,400 lantern slides to preservation standard
  • they prepared 2,000 object records and 4,600 photographs for upload to Collections Online

And you know what? Not a single one of the fragile glass slides was broken in the process! Congratulations, team!

The project team The huge crew who all pitched in for the lantern slide project.
Image: David Paul
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Lantern slides on Collections Online

The Magic Lantern Society (UK)

Burke & Wills sesquicentenary

Author
by Craig Robertson
Publish date
21 April 2011
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Craig is a Melbourne writer with an interest in natural history. He has been a museum volunteer in Birds and Mammals for several years.

150 years ago today, Burke and Wills returned from their trek to the Gulf of Carpentaria to Cooper Creek in south-west Queensland. Tragically, the party that had waited for them for 18 weeks had left just hours earlier on the same day, leaving a small cache of food buried under the a coolibah tree carved with the message 'DIG 3FT NW APR 21 1861'.

The Burke and Wills Dig Tree The Burke and Wills Dig Tree at Bullah Bullah Waterhole, on Coopers Creek, Queensland, Australia.
Image: Peterdownunder
Source: Used under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 3.0 from Peterdownunder
 

By the end of June both Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills were dead, leaving John King the only survivor. He was rescued by Alfred Howitt the following September during a search expedition, which also located the bodies of Burke and Wills.

Museum Victoria holds a number of important items associated with the story of Burke and Wills, particularly from Howitt’s two expeditions to Cooper Creek. Watch this space for more information in the coming months.

Medal - Burke & Wills Medal - Burke & Wills, Victoria, Australia, 1864. (NU 20096)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The famous, ill-fated Victorian Exploring Expedition was an enterprise of the Royal Society of Victoria, which is still located just across Carlton Gardens from Melbourne Museum. The expedition remained a dominant story in the Colony (and later State) of Victoria at least until World War I and the advent of the ANZACs. Pictured is a medallion from the Numismatics Collection, minted by Thomas Stokes about 1864 to commemorate Burke and Wills.

Links:

Royal Society of Victoria: Burke & Wills Commemoration program

Dig - The Burke & Wills Research Gateway at the State Library of Victoria

Gem of a proposal

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
21 April 2011
Comments
Comments (5)

There are a lot of sparkling gems and minerals on display in Dynamic Earth but on Tuesday morning there was a new temporary exhibit with an unusually personal label...

Ring in exhibition showcase Engagement ring planted in an exhibition showcase in Dynamic Earth.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

But who put it there? And why?

Simone sees the showcase. Simone sees the showcase.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

It was all part of an elaborate surprise marriage proposal by David to Simone. She thought she was visiting the museum to take some promotional photographs. All seemed perfectly normal until she spotted the showcase containing an engagement ring and the label asking 'Simone, will you marry me?'

Congratulations David and Simone! It was a lot of fun for the museum to be in cahoots with the lucky groom-to-be.

The newly-engaged couple The newly-engaged couple, David and Simone.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Artists and animals

Author
by Leonie
Publish date
20 April 2011
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This post comes from Leonie Cash, a librarian at the Museum Victoria library.

Thanks to the network of arts libraries, ARLIS, a trio of RMIT art academics visited the MV Library’s rare books collection recently to view examples of eighteenth and nineteenth century scientific illustration. Facsimiles of Albertus Seba and Maria Merian’s work were also on display.

Facsimilies Facsimiles of famous works by Albertus Seba and Maria Merian.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The three visitors are associated with RMIT’s School of Art and all are practising artists with a keen interest in natural history, particularly natural history illustration.

Artists studying rare books Greg Moncrieff, work experience student Max and Louise Weaver examine the exquisite illustrations in MV's rare books.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Greg Moncrieff was very pleased with the diversity of material available from the old books on display.

While looking at Gould’s humming birds, Louise Weaver was fascinated by the methods of layering of paint that reproduce the beautiful colours of these small birds.

Peter Ellis, Associate Professor and Studio Coordinator of Painting at RMIT, has written that the “experience of travel has had a profound impression on my work” and his visit to Museum Victoria’s rare books, though a short distance, has left him wanting to return again soon.

Rare book with fish illustration Fish illustration from 19th century America.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The MV Library is happy to host visiting scholars by appointment; please contact us via email.

Links:

X Marks the Spot exhibition, 2006

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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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