Nicole K

DISPLAYING POSTS BY: Nicole K (14)

Nicole K

Nicole works with museums around Australia to create field guide apps for Apple and Android devices. She has a passion for wildlife and loves that her job involves sharing this passion in such an innovative and engaging way.

Transcribing field diaries

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by Nicole K
Publish date
19 March 2015
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Deep in Museum Victoria’s archives lie boxes of notebooks. Notebooks that contain a significant part of our museum’s history. They are the field diaries of our past curators and collection managers, produced on scientific expeditions to explore, research and discover the natural history of Australia (and beyond).

Field diaries from Museum Victoria's collection Field diaries from Museum Victoria's collection
Source: Museum Victoria
 

These field diaries are of great interest to both scientists and historians. They are filled with invaluable data, providing insights into past species’ abundance and distribution, as well as personal descriptions of the trials and wonders experienced on historic expeditions.

A photograph from Graham Brown's field diary: Mt Rufus, Tasmania (1949). A photograph from Graham Brown's field diary: Mt Rufus, Tasmania (1949).
Image: Graham Brown
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Despite the fascinating information contained within the diaries (and the interest in them), they are relatively inaccessible. They were handwritten, often in less-than-favourable conditions (picture a scientist, crouched in the bush, notebook balanced on knee).

Sketch from Allan McEvey's field journal of his expedition to Macquarie Island, 1957. Excerpt from Allan McEvey's field journal of his expedition to Macquarie Island, 1957.
Image: Allan McEvey
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We have therefore started a crowd-sourcing project to transcribe the field diaries in our collection. The pages of each diary are carefully digitised and then uploaded into DigiVol the Atlas of Living Australia’s volunteer transcription portal that was developed in collaboration with the Australian Museum. Once transcribed, the text in the diaries will be searchable. We can create lists of the species mentioned and use this information to better understand and conserve our precious biodiversity.

Our most recent transcription project is Allan McEvey's field diary of his expedition to Macquarie Island in 1957. Museum Victoria's Curator of Birds from 1955, McEvey had a passion for scientific illustration and his field diaries are filled with sketches of birds and other wildlife.

Sketches of Black-browed Albatross, <i>Diomedea melanophris</i>, from Allan McEvey's field journal of his expedition to Macquarie Island, 1957. Sketches of Black-browed Albatross, Diomedea melanophris, from Allan McEvey's field journal of his expedition to Macquarie Island, 1957.
Image: Allan McEvey
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The original diaries, along with their transcriptions, will eventually be available online via the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL), the world's largest online repository of biodiversity literature and archival materials.

The Australian component of BHL is managed by Museum Victoria and funded by the Atlas of Living Australia. The project has allowed us to digitise over 500 rare books, historic journals and archival field diaries. This represents over 12000 pages of Australia’s biological heritage that was previously hidden away in library archives.

Interested in becoming a transcription volunteer?

If you would like to help us unlock the observations in our historic field diaries, more information is available on the DigiVol website.

MV's new digital exhibits

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by Nicole K
Publish date
5 March 2015
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On Tuesday 3 March, Museum Victoria joined 25 Australian cultural institutions at Parliament House to launch the Australian component of the Google Cultural Institute.

Google Cultural Institute launch, 3 March 2015, Parliament House, Canberra Google Cultural Institute launch, 3 March 2015, Parliament House, Canberra
Image: Nicole Kearney
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The Google Cultural Institute is an online collection of millions of cultural treasures from over 670 museums, art galleries and archives around the world. Visitors can explore millions of artworks and artefacts in extraordinary detail, create their own galleries and share their favourite works.

Museum Victoria has been involved in the Google Art project since 2011 and was among the first institutions to partner with Google to create what is now the world's largest online museum.

Featured content on the Google Cultural Institute Featured content on the Google Cultural Institute
Source: Google
 

Tuesday's launch welcomed 14 new Australian contributors, including the Australian War Memorial, the National Portrait Gallery and the Australian Centre for the Moving Image. Over 2000 of Australia's finest cultural works are now accessible online.

Among these treasures are 226 highlights from Museum Victoria's collection. These include Aboriginal bark paintings, photographs depicting early Victorian history, and scientific illustrations that trace the development of scientific art.

In order to tell the fascinating stories behind these collection items, we have created three digital exhibitions within the Google Cultural Institute:

The Art of Science: from Rumphius to Gould (1700-1850)

The Art of Science exhibit The Art of Science exhibit
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Scientific Art in Victoria (1850-1900)

Scientific Art in Victoria exhibit Scientific Art in Victoria exhibit
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A.J. Campbell (1880-1930)

A.J. Campbell exhibit A.J. Campbell exhibit
Source: Museum Victoria
 

These exhibits include stunning photographs and illustrations, curator-narrated videos and in-depth information.

Many of these illustrations come from rare books preserved in our library and, in many cases, accompany the first published descriptions of our unique Australian fauna. The books are available online in their entirety in the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a project funded in Australia by the Atlas of Living Australia.

Art of Science - more please!

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by Nicole K
Publish date
8 October 2014
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The Art of Science exhibition presents the finest examples from Museum Victoria's remarkable collection of natural history artworks. These include rare books from the 18th and 19th centuries, field sketches from early colonial exploration of Australia's wildlife, and contemporary scientific photographs.

The books on display contain some of the most beautiful and significant illustrations of flora and fauna ever produced. The exhibition's curators must have had a torturous task selecting which page from each book to display. Because that's all they could display – a single double page spread from each precious volume.

  Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, illustrated by Elizabeth Gould for John Gould's <i>A synopsis of the birds of Australia, and the adjacent islands</i>, 1st edition London, 1837-38, on display at Melbourne Museum. Major Mitchell's Cockatoo, illustrated by Elizabeth Gould for John Gould's A synopsis of the birds of Australia, and the adjacent islands, 1st edition, London, 1837-38, on display at Melbourne Museum. The entire book can now be viewed online.
Image: Nicole Kearney
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The Art of Science has only just opened at the Melbourne Museum. Before coming home, it toured Mornington, Ballarat, Adelaide, Mildura, Sale and Sydney. Visitors to the travelling exhibition were awed by the stunning illustrations, but they were also a little frustrated. They wanted to turn those beautiful pages. They wanted to see more.

Superb Lyrebird, from <i>An account of the English colony in New South Wales, from its first settlement in January 1788 to August 1801</i>, David Collins, 1804. Superb Lyrebird, from An account of the English colony in New South Wales, from its first settlement in January 1788 to August 1801, David Collins, 1804. The entire book can now be viewed online.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

And so, before the books went on display for this final time, we asked the exhibition's curators if we could borrow them. Each page of every book was carefully photographed and the images colour matched to the originals. This work was meticulously performed by a group of dedicated museum volunteers, supervised by Museum Victoria's library staff.

Ground Parrot, illustrated by James Sowerby, for George Shaw's <i>Zoology of New Holland</i>, volume 1, 1st edition, London, 1794. Ground Parrot, illustrated by James Sowerby, for George Shaw's Zoology of New Holland, volume 1, 1st edition, London, 1794. The entire book can now be viewed online.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We then uploaded the scanned volumes into the world's largest online repository of biodiversity literature and archival materials – the Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL). BHL is a global consortium of natural history libraries working together to make biodiversity literature freely and openly available to everyone.

Museum Victoria coordinates the Australian component of this giant online library, and we are thrilled that the books displayed in The Art of Science exhibition are now part of it.

So if you too would like to turn those tantalising pages, now you can (whether you're in Melbourne, or not):

  • Visit the BHL website to view The Art of Science books in their entirety.
  • Visit The Art of Science exhibition at Melbourne Museum to view a selection of the scanned pages on an interactive screen.

Taking nature to the nation

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by Nicole K
Publish date
1 May 2014
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In 2011 Museum Victoria produced our first Field Guide app: the MV Field Guide to Victorian Fauna.

The app has since been downloaded by over 85,000 people and gets great reviews. But there has been a repeated request – a request from people who don't live in Victoria.

Where are the apps for the other Australian states and territories?

This wasn't something we could address on our own. To make apps for the other states and territories, we needed the shared expertise of natural history museums around the country.

In 2012, Museum Victoria was successful in applying for an Inspiring Australia Unlocking Australia's Potential Grant to produce seven new Field Guide apps in collaboration with:

  • Australian Museum
  • Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory
  • Queensland Museum
  • South Australian Museum
  • Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
  • Western Australian Museum


For the past two years, scientists around Australia have been writing species descriptions, sourcing images and we have been tweaking the code. We have also worked with colleagues from the Atlas of Living Australia to source taxonomic names, conservation status and recorded observations of each species.

We are very excited to announce that the products of this nation-wide collaborative project are now available.

Field Guide to ACT Fauna app (iPhone & iPad) Field Guide to ACT Fauna app (iPhone & iPad)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

There are now eight apps – Field Guides to the Fauna of New South Wales, Northern Territory, Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Western Australia and the ACT – as well as a new version of the original Field Guide to Victorian Fauna.

Collectively the apps contain 2105 species, 7281 images and 270 audio files.

They are available for both Apple and Android devices. And are all absolutely FREE.

We hope you enjoy them!

Links to the App Store and Google Play can be found via our National Field Guide Apps webpage.

Field Guide to Victorian Fauna (Android) Field Guide to Victorian Fauna (Android)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

New field guide apps

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by Nicole K
Publish date
2 July 2013
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When we blog about Museum Victoria's Field Guide to Victorian Fauna app, we usually talk about its content (animal descriptions, sounds, images, etc). But behind all this content are hundreds of lines of code – the instructions that determine how the app functions.

This code was developed by Museum Victoria's app developers. In 2011 we published it online under an open source licence. This means that anyone can use it to produce a similar app, for free. (For more information see our Field Guide to the Field Guide blog).

And people are using it! Over the past two years, we've learned about a number of projects using our code. Some app developers have contacted us to ask questions and share ideas; others have charged ahead on their own.

This is exactly what we hoped would happen, so we're very excited to announce that three apps using our code have been released in the past month:

Field Guide to Pest Animals of Australia
This app contains 31 of Australia's 56 vertebrate pest species, such as Cane Toads, Carp, Foxes and Mynas. Created by the Invasive Animals CRC, it includes information about the biology and origin of these introduced pests, as well as the damage they cause. Wondering how a tiny Asian House Gecko can harm our native wildlife? Check out this app.

Field Guide to Pest Animals of Australia app screens (iPad & iPhone) Field Guide to Pest Animals of Australia app screens (iPad & iPhone)
Image: Invasive Animals CRC
Source: Invasive Animals CRC

New Zealand Marine Life Field Guide
Produced by the Auckland Museum, this app holds descriptions of over 130 of New Zealand's most common marine plants and animals. All common names appear in both English and Māori: from Haku (Yellowtail Kingfish) to Honu (Green Turtle) to Rimurimu (Neptune's Necklace).

New Zealand Marine Life Field Guide app screens (iPad & iPhone) New Zealand Marine Life Field Guide app screens (iPad & iPhone)
Image: Auckland Museum
Source: Auckland Museum
 
Grand Canyon National Park Field Guide
Produced by ParksConnect, this app highlights common plants and animals found in the Grand Canyon National Park, such as Coyotes, Californian Condors, Tarantulas and Banana Yuccas. Hear the roar of a Mountain Lion, the call of a Hummingbird and the thunder-clap of head-butting Bighorn Sheep!

Grand Canyon Field Guide app screens (iPhone) Grand Canyon Field Guide app screens (iPhone)
Image: ParksConnect
Source: ParksConnect
 

MV’s Field Guide app - now on Android!

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by Nicole K
Publish date
6 May 2013
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Since the launch of MV's Field Guide app for Apple mobile devices, we've received hundreds of requests for an Android version, my favourite being:


All I want for Christmas is an update on the Android field guide!

Well – drumroll – it's here!

Last Friday, we were very proud that Senator The Hon Don Farrell, Minister for Science and Research and Minister Assisting for Tourism, was able to join us at Melbourne Museum to celebrate this significant milestone. 

  Field Guide apps team pose with Minister Farrell: Simon Sherrin, Jo Taylor, Ely Wallis, Ajay Ranipeta, Minister Farrell, Blair Patullo (absent: Nicole Kearney, Michael Mason). Field Guide apps team pose with Minister Farrell: Simon Sherrin, Jo Taylor, Ely Wallis, Ajay Ranipeta, Minister Farrell, Blair Patullo (absent: Nicole Kearney, Michael Mason).
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Development of the Android version is part of a wider project, funded by the Australian Government under the Inspiring Australia, Unlocking Australia's Potential scheme, where we are working with museums around the country to deliver field guide apps for all States and Territories.

The MV Field Guide app is now available through Google Play for Android devices – including tablets, phablets and phones. And it's free.

The MV Field Guide home screen (shown here on a Nexus 7) The MV Field Guide home screen (shown here on a Nexus 7)
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The app contains over 730 Victorian animals, including mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, fishes and marine and freshwater invertebrates. Each detailed description includes stunning images, distribution maps, endangered status and animal sounds (for birds, frogs and other noisy critters).

The Helmeted Honeyeater is Victoria's bird emblem (shown here on a Nexus 7) The Helmeted Honeyeater is Victoria's bird emblem (shown here on a Nexus 7)
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria

Apple device users will be able to download an updated iOS version in the coming weeks. The new version represents a significant upgrade to the existing iOS app.

Additions to the new Android app (and coming soon for Apple devices) include:

  • Over 30 new species (many added as a result of user requests), including the Great White Shark, the Giant Gippsland Earthworm and Victoria's bird emblem, the Helmeted Honeyeater
  • New marine mammals: seals, dolphins, whales
  • 75 new bird calls, including the Powerful Owl, the Little Penguin, the Tawny Frogmouth, the Sacred Kingfisher and the Red-tailed Black Cockatoo
  • The complete set of frog calls
  • The updated Victorian Endangered Status for all vertebrate species (bringing the app in line with the DSE's 2013 Advisory List for Threatened Vertebrate Fauna)

About this blog

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

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