MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Apr 2013 (5)

Shake Your Family Tree

Author
by Phil
Publish date
20 April 2013
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Last week the Immigration Museum Discovery Centre participated in the annual Shake Your Family Tree event. Organised by the National Archives of Australia (NAA), this is a national event that brings together family history experts in one location for an entire day.

  NAA Foyer Victorian Archives Centre Foyer
Image: Phillip Morrissey
Source: Phillip Morrissey
 

It was an opportunity for budding genealogists to delve even deeper into their family history with a full day of activities presented by the National Archives and others. There were many opportunities to speak to experts about resources that can assist with your family history journey and visitors could hear personal stories from fascinating guest speakers. Key sessions were webcast, including a special panel discussion on how migrants have shaped Australia, moderated by Karen Middleton, SBS journalist, and an introduction to the National Archives new website Destination: Australia which showcases over 21,000 images of migrants in Australia after World War II.

Along with many other institutions such as the State Library of Victoria, Public Record Office of Victoria, Genealogical Society of Victoria and the Koori Heritage Trust to name but a few, we set up our stand in the foyer of the VAC in North Melbourne and helped many enthusiastic visitors with questions about doing their family history research. 

MV Staff Immigration Museum Info desk
Image: Phillip Morrissey
Source: Phillip Morrissey
 

MV Staff Immigration Museum Info desk at NAA
Image: Phillip Morrissey
Source: Phillip Morrissey
 

It was the perfect opportunity to promote the services of the Discovery Centre at the Immigration Museum which we hope will encourage more visitation to the Museum and the IDC.

Modelling Myee's hands

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
16 April 2013
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Last Friday Myee Patten, daughter of MV staff member Will Patten, came to work with her dad to stick her hands in a bucket of goo. This might seem an odd school holiday activity, but it will help exhibition curators demonstrate the toys of Aboriginal children in the Toy Stories section of First Peoples. For scale and context, children’s objects are best shown in the hands of children– so we needed to model some hands for this important task. Myee was willing to let us borrow her hands for the job.

Girl having her hands moulded Myee with her dad, Will, sitting very still and waiting patiently as museum preparators make a mould of her hands.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This pink goo, or alginate, is most commonly used by dentists to make impressions of teeth. It’s non-toxic, flexible when set, and smells just like a dentist’s office! It’s also extremely fast-setting so the preparators mixed it up as quickly as possible and poured it over Myee’s hands as she held the poses needed to demonstrate the objects in use.

Two men stirring pink mixture Preparators Pete and Steven in a stirring frenzy as they mix up the pink goo as quickly as they can!
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Myee’s first job was to hold her hands as if cradling a baby, to support a clay doll from Milingimbi in Arnhem Land in the 1930s. The second time round, Myee held a fragment of lignum as if she’d just flicked a mudswitch, a popular game among children growing up along the Murray River.

Pete and Myee with the mould Pete and Myee with the freshly-set mould of her hands.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Myee did an excellent job of staying completely still while the alginate set. Once it was solid – and you can tell this because the colour changes from purple, to pink, through to white –  Myee carefully wriggled out of the mould, leaving behind an exact impression of her hands.

plastic tubs of liquid plaster Mixing up the plaster ready to pour into the mould. This is a special mix of plaster and cement that sets extremely hard.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Minutes after her hands were free, the preparators filled the moulds with hard-setting liquid plaster. A few hours later, they extracted the casts. The preps will remove any rough bits and prepare the casts for their important job of display. And in years to come, when Myee visits with her school or family, she can point out to her friends how she lent us a hand (or two)!

Removing the cast hands from mould Preparators Brendan and Pete carefully removing the cast of Myee's hands from the mould. This model will support the clay doll.
Source: Museum Victoria

cast of hand A cast of Myee's hand holding a piece of twig. The process that the museum's preparators use captures every skin wrinkle and tiny detail.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

MV News: Will Patten "Talking to everybody"

MV Blog: Mudswitches on the plaza

New species in the MV Field Guide app

Author
by Nicole K
Publish date
5 April 2013
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To celebrate the upcoming release of the Android version of the MV Field Guide app, we're adding a suite of new species; species that have been specifically requested by the users of the existing iOS app.

However, we were missing images of a few species, including Victoria's bird emblem the Helmeted Honeyeater. With no images, these species were going to be left out of the app.

So we asked our MV Blog readers for help – and the response was overwhelming!

Helmeted Honeyeater, <i>Lichenostomus melanops cassidix</i> Helmeted Honeyeater, Lichenostomus melanops cassidix
Image: Ian J. Wilson
Source: Ian J. Wilson
 

Thank you to everyone who sent in images for our MV Field Guide photography competition. We wanted to include them all, but we had to be mindful of download size (with over 700 species in the app, that's a lot of pictures).

The winning photographers were:

  • Neville Bartlett
  • Leo Berzins
  • Arthur Carew
  • Micha Jackson
  • Gordon Slater
  • Ian J. Wilson

Thanks to these people, the upcoming Android version of the MV Field Guide (and the iOS upgrade) will include the Helmeted Honeyeater, the Diamond Firetail and the Little Eagle (along with 25 other new species).

Haven't got the MV Field Guide app? Download it for free from the App Store. Android users, stay tuned – it's coming soon!

UPDATE: The Android version is now available from Google Play. Hooray!

Diamond Firetail, <em>Stagonopleura guttata</em> Diamond Firetail, Stagonopleura guttata
Image: Gordon Slater
Source: Gordon Slater
 

Easter Extravaganza at the Immigration Museum

Author
by Elizabeth Downey
Publish date
4 April 2013
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Elizabeth is a Programs Officer at the Immigration Museum

These school holidays the Immigration Museum’s Easter Extravaganza program explores Easter traditions from around the world – from Australia to Germany, Russia, Bermuda and beyond.

photo of Adrienne Leith surrounded by her collection of Easter egg wrappers
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

Museum Victoria's Adrienne Leith has been creating her own Easter traditions since the mid-1960s, when she began saving the colourful foil from her Easter eggs. "As a child," Adrienne says, "the most treasured things I owned were Easter wrappers. My birthday is just after Easter, so I would be given special ones every year." Her collection spans almost 50 years with over 350 pieces, which are carefully catalogued in two leather scrapbooks. Adrienne only collects wrappers from eggs that have been given to her and she flattens all her wrappers by hand.

photo of Easter Egg Tree at Immigration Museum
Image: Elizabeth Downey
Source: Museum Victoria

Children can bring along their own Easter egg wrappers to the Immigration Museum's school holiday program, using them to decorate paper or pompom Easter eggs to hang on our Ostereierbaum or Easter egg tree. In Germany, the tradition to decorate the branches of trees and bushes with eggs for Easter is centuries old, with eggs of many styles and from different countries represented.

hand coloured paper babushka dolls Get wrapped up in a Babushka basket.
Image: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria

The sharing of eggs is a common practice during spring celebrations such as Easter, though they haven’t always been colourful or made of chocolate.  Traditionally the first thing to be eaten at a Russian Easter feast is an egg. Shared by the whole family, it is cut into equal pieces and given to everyone at the table. It is said that the egg contains happiness for the entire year, so everyone takes a share.

In Bermuda, people of all ages make and fly beautiful, colourful kites with wonderful geometric designs at Easter.  There is said to be a special religious significance in Bermuda to kite flying that started on Good Friday during Easter, when a teacher had difficulty explaining the Christian religious concept of Jesus' ascension to heaven to his Sunday school class

Inspired by these customs, hop into the Immigration Museum these school holidays to make your own Bermuda kite, Babushka baskets or paper and pompom eggs for our German Easter Egg tree.

See our Autumn School Holiday Program webpage for more details.

Return from Mount Dako

Author
by Kevin Rowe
Publish date
2 April 2013
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Kevin is our Senior Curator of Mammals. He investigates the systematics, evolution and conservation biology of mammals with a particular interest in rodents.

On Saturday 23 March, we returned to Melbourne from our expedition to Sulawesi, Indonesia. Our last week we spent at the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense sorting specimens and preparing permits to return to Australia. A week earlier on 16 March, we left our camp in the forest of Mount Dako on the island of Sulawesi. We hiked all day from 1600 metres above sea level to the village of Malangga Selatan at 200 metres. Our team at 400 metres elevation also left camp and met us in the town of Toli Toli.

Sulawesi field team The mammal team and guides at 1600m elevation on the last day in the high camp on Mount Dako. Left to right: Kevin Rowe, Mardin Sarkam, Anang Achmadi, Jamudin, Jake Esselstyn, and Jamal.
Image: Karen Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

It wasn’t easy to get to our camps on Mount Dako. After a week of permits in Jakarta, a week of scouting two mountains, and several days arranging local assistance, we finally arrived in Malangga Selatan ready to hike up the mountain. With over 300 kg of gear, our team of ten researchers, and fifty local men waiting to help us up the mountain, our local guide, Jamudin, suddenly expressed concern about water on the mountain. Apparently we were going farther into the forest than he was accustomed. We showed him the many drainages on the map that all fed into a big river to the east, but our only option to convince him was to send another scouting party two days hike up the mountain. The rest of our team and the porters set the low elevation camp. After two days, I reached the crest south of Mount Dako with our scouting party and made camp beside a small stream. That night the rain fell heavy for several hours and our tent flooded in the rain. We sought shelter with our guides under a tarp and spent several hours sitting on a small log until the rain subsided enough to return to our tent. The next day we sent two of our guides down the mountain to return with the rest of our team and our gear two days later. We moved our camp to a drier location farther up the ridge and enjoyed the only two days without rain for the rest of our trip.

Sulawesi moss forest Lush and wet lower montane moss forest near camp at 1600 metres elevation on Mount Dako.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Our high camp was set in lower montane rainforest with moss-covered trees including oaks and pandanus. Even when it’s not raining, clouds bring moisture to the forest and there is nearly constant dripping. Orchids and pitcher plants grow in the moisture of the moss. Spiny rotan erupt from tiny plants on the forest floor to tree size vines emerging from the canopy. They climb with the aid of curved thorns that grip human hands and bodies as easily as the trunks of trees.

Plants of Sulawesi Left: Spiny palm tree along the trail to the high camp on Mount Dako. Right: Pitcher plant in lower montane forest.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Over the last two weeks, our two camps documented 26 species of bats, rats and shrews and 31 species of birds in the forests of Mount Dako. In total, our surveys produced nearly 500 mammal and 150 bird records.

We documented a wide range of mammal species including the giant rat, Paruromys dominator, the small orange-brown rat, Maxomys musschenbroekii, the long-haired rat, Rattus xanthurus, the soft-furred rat, Bunomys penitus, and the small arboreal mouse, Haeromys minahassae. We documented two squirrels, the small arboreal, Prosciurillus murinus, and the long-nosed, terrestrial, Hyosciurus ileile. We also documented five species of shrews, including the dark-furred, Crocidura rhoditis.

Three Sulawesi mammals Three of the mammals recorded in Mt Dako's lower montane forests. Top: Giant rat, Paruromys dominator. Middle: The soft-furred rat, Bunomys penitus. Bottom: The long-nosed squirrel, Hyosciurus ileile.
Image: Kevin Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Many endemic and beautiful bird species were documented as well, including the Green-backed Kingfisher, Lesser Sulawesi Honeyeater, Sulawesi and Hair-crested Drongos, Malia, Philippine Scrubfowl, Yellow-flanked Whistler, Fiery-browed Starling, Golden-mantled Racquet-tail, and two species of small hawks, the Spot-tailed Goshawk and Vinous-breasted Sparrowhawk.  Many species of fruit-doves were also noted, including the Sulawesi Ground-dove, Purple-crowned Fruit-dove and Black-naped Fruit-dove. Population densities of several species were high, including the Yellow-sided Flowerpecker. This species is in the same family as Australia’s Mistletoebird, which is often only found singly or in pairs. An exciting find was the large Ashy Woodpecker. Sulawesi represents a limit to the distribution of woodpeckers, which are found world-wide with the exception of the Australo-Pacific region.

Two birds of Sulawesi Left: The Green-backed Kingfisher found in lower montane forest on Mount Dako. Right: The endemic Malia found at 1600 m on Mount Dako.
Image: Karen Rowe
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Our return to Melbourne is only the beginning of our studies as now we begin the cleaning and detailed examination of specimens, including genetic sequencing and comparison to described specimens to confirm identifications and examine geographic variation within species. Our collections from Mount Dako are a rare collection from the western portion of the northern peninsula of Sulawesi. They will help us understand the diversity, distribution, and origin of species on the island of Sulawesi and its significance in the biogeography of the Indo-Australian region. That understanding will emerge through our research at Museum Victoria and our collaboration with the Museum Zoologicum Bogoriense and our international partners in Canada and the USA. 

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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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