MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Apr 2011 (17)

Making History with the experts

Author
by Jan M
Publish date
18 April 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

This guest post is from Jan Molloy, a teacher who now works at the Immigration Museum. She develops education programs and works on partnership projects with schools.

How do you bring a gaggle of students from across Victoria together with prominent historians into one classroom? Virtually, that’s how!

Making History is an interactive website where students can research their community’s history, interact with professional historians and access Museum Victoria’s online collection. By sharing research and stories on the Making History channel, students will showcase their work while contributing to the knowledge and collections of the museum. Making History is a collaboration between the DEECD, Museum Victoria and the Public History Department at Monash University. It will launch in June 2011 but in March we held two pilot online sessions.

On Friday 25 March, Professor Graeme Davison spoke with more than 40 students from Maffra Secondary College, Fairhills High School and ,Sacred Heart College, Kyneton and the Victorian School of Languages, about his work as a historian. He answered questions from the virtual floor for over an hour, using the web to link the computer lab at Melbourne Museum to classrooms across Victoria. Students moved from personal queries like:

If you got to own one of the things in a museum what would it be?

to

What happens when you have something at home that looks old but you don’t know its history and no one in your family does?

  Making History screenshot Screenshot from Making History pilot session.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In a second session on 30 March, Dr. Seamus O’Hanlon  responded to questions in a virtual classroom of over 100 students. Our very keen Year 9s from Maffra and Fairhills Secondary Colleges returned and were joined by students from Castlemaine North Primary School, Tongala PS, Kyabram P-12 and Lalbert Primary School. Their questions ranged from:

Why do you like your job as an historian?

to

How do you research the history of a building without using the internet?

  Screenshot Making History Screen shot from the Making History pilot session: Seamus tours students around a site about architectural history.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The participating students were inspired by their chats with Seamus and Graeme and were keen to start their own research. We look forward to seeing some fantastic work from these students.

Links:

History education resources

The world’s slowest hunters

Author
by David P
Publish date
18 April 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

We have many different types of snail here at Melbourne Museum. They range from the very well-known Common Garden Snail (Cantareus aspersa), which was introduced into Australia from Europe in the early 1800s, to Australia’s largest snail, the Giant Panda Snail (Hedleyella falconeri), from the forests around the border of New South Wales and Queensland. There are many differences between the snails in our collection but one trait that they generally share is what they eat. Most snails are herbivorous and feed on plant matter or fungi – much to the frustration of many gardeners. However, some snails have different eating habits and they are in fact carnivorous. We have one such predatory creature here.

Carnivorous snail Carnivorous snail feeding on a Common Garden Snail.
Image: David Paddock
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Now, a snail is not exactly known for its speed, but these snails actually chase down and eat other animals, feeding on worms and other molluscs, including snails. While what they eat is different, the way that they eat is exactly the same. Snails have a radula – a tongue-like structure covered by rows of rasping teeth. To see the feeding structure (mouth) of a snail, place it on a clear glass sheet and watch from below.

Carnivorous snail Carnivorous snail eating a Common Garden Snail.
Image: David Paddock
Source: Museum Victoria
 

These pictures were taken here at Melbourne Museum in our back-of-house animal care facility. The smaller carnivorous snail (Terrycarlessia tubinata) is eating a Common Garden Snail. A few days later all that was left of the victim was an empty shell!

If you are interested in snails and would like to see some of Australia's biggest species, come along to Melbourne Museum and see our Rainforest Snails and Giant Panda Snails on display now in Bugs Alive.

Links:

Infosheet: Land snails of Victoria

MV Blog: Snail of a surprise

Rippon Lea and REB

Author
by Nicole A
Publish date
14 April 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

This guest post comes from Nicole Alley, who works in the Webteam. She is a geek at heart who loves taking photos.

I joined the National Trust this year, and recently visited Rippon Lea House & Gardens in Elsternwick. Rippon Lea is a 19th century suburban estate significant for its mansion, garden and outbuildings. And, as I discovered, it has a few connections to our very own Royal Exhibition Building too.

Rippon Lea Estate mansion and buildings Rippon Lea mansion and the expansive lawn leading to the lake.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Nicole Alley
 

I started my visit with a tour of the mansion, where I noticed a print of the Royal Exhibition Building hanging on a wall. Below it was a black and white print that I also recognised; it's of a painting by Tom Roberts showing the opening of the first Parliament of Australia at the Royal Exhibition Building in 1901.

Photos inside Rippon Lea mansion
Top image: Lithograph by C.Troedel & Co of the Royal Exhibition Building in 1880. Bottom image: A print of Tom Roberts' painting of the opening of the first Parliament of Australia, also known as The Big Picture.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Nicole Alley
 

I asked our guide, Jim, what the connection was. He explained that Sir Frederick Thomas Sargood, who created Rippon Lea, attended the opening of Parliament at the Royal Exhibition Building. Jim pointed to a face in the image: "That's him there." I knew Jim hadn't just picked a random face to liven up his story; Roberts was required to include at least 250 recognisable faces in his painting, including members of the new Commonwealth Parliament, and created a sketch with a key to the names. Sargood was a Senator at the time and is listed at number 121.

What's more, Sargood was the Executive Vice-President of the Commission for the 1888 Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition, held at the Royal Exhibition Building. He was largely responsible for bringing out the conductor, Sir Frederick Cowen, at great expense, to establish an orchestra for the exhibition. (This Collections Online theme page explains how significant music was at the exhibition, and to Melbourne life in general.)

After the tour I set out to explore the grounds. With wide lawns, shrubberies, flower beds, shady trees, and cool features like an orchard, lake, boathouse, fernery and lookout tower, it was picturesque and adventurous. Growing up here would've been great – just imagine how long a game of hide and seek would've lasted!

Lake at Rippon Lea Estate Part of the lake at Rippon Lea Estate. The water is green because it is covered in duckweed.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Nicole Alley
 

There's a windmill too. When Sargood created Rippon Lea, the site wasn't connected to Melbourne's water supply so he devised a sophisticated rainwater collection, irrigation and drainage/recycling system. The windmill pumped the water through underground storage tanks and pipes and ensured the entire estate was self-sustainable. Rippon Lea was later switched across to the main supply, however the National Trust is now in the process of reinstating Sargood's system.

And that's another connection: in February we completed our World Heritage, World Futures project to reinstate the 1880s garden on the Western Forecourt of the Royal Exhibition Building. Before the garden went in, we installed an underground system of tanks and pipes that will collect and distribute rainwater to Carlton Gardens, including the fountains and ponds, and also to the Forest Gallery and Milarri Garden inside Melbourne Museum.

Back at work, I did some further reading and found a few more interesting pieces of shared history between these two grand 19th century sites:

  • They were established within a decade of each other: Rippon Lea Estate in 1868-69, and the Royal Exhibition building in 1879-80.
  • They were both included in the National Heritage List in 2004. (That same year, the Royal Exhibition Building was also inscribed on the World Heritage List.)
  • Both buildings were designed by Joseph Reed of the architectural firm Reed & Barnes.
  • Rippon Lea's garden was created in the Gardenesque style, as was Carlton Gardens, where the REB is situated.
  • William Sangster designed Carlton Gardens (in conjunction with Joseph Reed); he was also brought in by Sargood to redesign Rippon Lea's garden in 1882.

Links:

Rippon Lea House and Gardens

Royal Exhibition Building

Royal Exhibition Building in Collections Online

Live Exhibits’ trip to the Alps

Author
by Chloe
Publish date
13 April 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

This guest post is by Chloe, a Live Exhibits keeper at Melbourne Museum.

At Live Exhibits we like to keep a range of funnel-web species. This way we can represent not only the infamous Sydney Funnel-web spider, but the majority of Australian funnel-web species in our exhibits.

As it had been six years since Live Exhibits’ last trip to Nariel Valley, it was time for Jessie, Patrick and I to pack up the car and head off on a field trip in the to find some Alpine Funnel-webs (Hadronyche alpina).

Alpine Funnel-web Alpine Funnel-web, Hadronyche alpina.
Image: Chloe Miller
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Local resident Mrs Brown originally alerted the museum’s Discovery Centre to the presence of a population of Alpine Funnel-webs in the Nariel Valley and more particularly her front lawn. Young funnel-webs emerge from their mother’s burrow, find an attractive burrow site, and then burrow down, which makes for high density populations. For us, this leads to quick collection of multiple specimens.

After finding three funnel-webs around our campsite it was time to head off to Mrs Brown’s place, where she showed four large burrows. We started digging holes in the mud more than 30cm deep, a process much more lengthy than expected, using only a desert spoon to dig, trying not to destroy Mrs Brown’s lawn or injure the spiders. Finally we produced four plump female funnel-webs (which were less than happy about being disturbed) then we balanced them on a spoon to be transferred into their new glass homes.

Alpine Funnel-web Alpine Funnel-web, Hadronyche alpina
Image: Chloe Miller
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Soaking wet with seven funnel-webs under our belt and no sign of any more, it was time to head off to Omeo.

The following day drove up the windy, fog-covered hills to Mt Hotham, where we began our search for Alpine Thermocolour Grasshoppers (Kosciuscola tristis), Alpine Blistered Pyrgomorphs, (Monistria concinna), Mountain Katydids (Acripeza reticulata) and Alpine Katydids (Tinzeda albosignata).

Alpine Katydid & Alpine Thermocolour Grasshopper Left: Alpine Katydid, Tinzeda albosignata. Right: Alpine Thermocolour Grasshopper Kosciuscola tristis.
Image: Alan Henderson
Source: Museum Victoria
 

On warmer days these invertebrates would be sitting up on small bushes and grass clumps, enjoying the sun. However on cooler foggy days, like the day of our visit, many of the invertebrates sink lower into the foliage to protect themselves against the elements, making our search a little harder and much wetter. Thankfully I had donned plastic pants and a rain coat which made the perfect outfit, although they didn’t help the situation in my boots, which contained enough water to fill a small lake.

Foggy Mt Hotham Foggy conditions for collecting invertebrates at Mt Hotham.
Image: Patrick Honan
Source: Museum Victoria
 

During the morning of searching, Patrick’s alter ego Taxon Boy didn’t let us down, helping us bag 48 Thermocolour Grasshoppers, 7 Alpine Katydids, 1 Mountain Katydid, 12 Alpine Blistered Pyrgomorphs and a female Alpine Wolf Spider (Lycosa sp.).

Alpine Wolf Spider, Lycosa sp.. Alpine Wolf Spider, Lycosa sp.
Image: Chloe Miller
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We made one final stop on our long drive back to the museum to collect some eucalyptus for our stick insects; here Taxon Boy also stumbled across some large Garden Orb-weavers (Nephila edulis) which you can now see on display in the Orb wall in Bugs Alive! at Melbourne Museum.

Garden Orb-weaver Garden Orb-weaver, Nephila edulis.
Image: Alan Henderson
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Infosheet: Spiders of Victoria 

MV Blog: TV Crew in Bugs Alive

New Live Exhibits keepers

Author
by Patrick
Publish date
13 April 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

The Live Exhibits Unit has taken on three new full-time keepers in recent months, who you might see working in the Forest Gallery and Bugs Alive at Melbourne Museum.

Dave Paddock hails from Wellington Zoo, Healesville Sanctuary and Werribee Open Range Zoo. He has travelled the world as a sightseer and tour guide. His favourite animals at Live Exhibits change depending on the day – today it is the toadhoppers in Bugs Alive, which Dave will blog about in the near future.

David Paddock David Paddock getting out of the mud.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

As the photo illustrates, Dave is specialises at getting out of sticky situations on field trips. He also loves bushwalking and does an expert baboon impression. Dave has only one enemy – a cockatoo called Jake at Wellington Zoo.

Rowena Flynn has been a postie, horticulturalist and Art and Environment teacher with a degree in Asian Studies and honours degree in Political Science. She’s been a casual keeper on Live Exhibits since 2006 and her proudest moment is becoming a full-time keeper.

 

Rowena once navigated with a compass from Kathmandu to Italy in a truck, and now travels Australia looking for the perfect wave. Her favourite animal is Mrs Moloch, the Thorny Devil, who can be seen feeding on ants from time to time in Bugs Alive.

Chloe Miller also goes by the name Sugar Rose and her favourite animals are chameleons, even though she’s volunteered with Orang Utans in Borneo.

Chloe Miller Chloe Miller with a monitor lizard.
Source: Chloe Miller
 

Originally from Alexandra in central Victoria where she worked for Parks Victoria, Chloe has an Animal Science degree and was also a Customer Service Officer at Melbourne Museum. She has a killer bowling arm and her favourite music is the soundtrack to the movie You’ve Got Mail.

Mountain Katydids

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
12 April 2011
Comments
Comments (10)

During the recent Bush Blitz biodiversity survey at Lake Condah, there was one insect that intrigued even the staunchest vertebrate biologists — the Mountain Katydid (Acripeza reticulata).

In this video, Patrick, Rowena and David from Live Exhibits talk about these unusual katydids and how they're establishing a colony of them at Melbourne Museum.

Watch this video with a transcript

Katydids are in the family Tettigoniidae, otherwise known as bush crickets or long-horned grasshoppers due to their very long antennae. The name 'katydid' comes from the noise that they make by rubbing their wings together which, in some species, sounds like katy-did, katy-did.

Bush Blitz is a three-year biodiversity discovery program supported by the Australian Government, BHP Billiton, Earthwatch Australia and Terrestrial Ecosystems Research Network (TERN) AusPlots.

Links:

Mountain Katydid on Caught and Coloured

MV Blog: Bush Blitz finds

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.

Categories