Events and Programs

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Events and Programs

Lectures, community festivals, activities for kids - lots of stuff to see and do!

10 years of World Heritage status

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by Kate C
Publish date
1 July 2014
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Many of us have precious heirlooms that escort our families through the decades, cherished by each generation in turn. Perhaps as a child you loved the treasures in the house of your grandparents and now you are the custodian of these objects, charged with keeping them safe for future descendants.

Few of us experience quite the scale of family collections as Will Twycross, who describes his childhood thus: "I grew up in a weatherboard house that contained European paintings, intricately carved ivory chess pieces, brilliantly coloured ceramics, and long Polynesian arrows that we were told were poison tipped and shouldn't be touched…. The paintings with their strange scenes and exotic colours hung on the walls, breathing the soft mists of Europe into the harsh sunlight of the suburbs."

Photograph of a room The drawing room at Emmarine II, the Twycross family home at 23 Seymour Road, Elsternwick, showing various pieces of the John Twycross collection displayed in the home during the mid-20th century.  

chess pieces Ivory puzzle ball chess pieces from a set carved in China in the late Qing Dynasty, circa 1870-1880. Will Twycross played with these as a child.
Image: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Will Twycross is the great-grandson of Melbourne merchant and art collector John ‘Top Hat’ Twycross. The wonders of Will’s childhood home were originally bought by John and his wife Charlotte ‘Lizzie’ Twycross at the 1880 and 1888 Melbourne International Exhibitions. There they acquired several hundred paintings, pieces of furniture and decorative items for their grand house in Caulfield. Through the years, the Twycross family cared for the collection until 2009, when they donated over 200 objects to Museum Victoria's Royal Exhibition Building Collection. "We decided to return it to the place it had come from," notes Will. "The decision seemed to have a certain symmetry to it."

People at an exhibition Illustration of the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition bustling with visitors.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Today marks ten years of World Heritage status for our beloved Royal Exhibition Building, and we're celebrating with the release of a book and accompanying website about the extraordinary Twycross Collection. In Visions of Colonial Grandeur, curator Dr Charlotte Smith has researched not just the Twycross legacy and the collection itself, but the impact of two international exhibitions – which were, at the time, the largest events held in Australia.

The Royal Exhibition Building is no longer surrounded by the temporary annexes that housed the grand courts of the Melbourne Exhibition Building, but it remains the only Great Hall of its era to survive in its original setting and the world's oldest continuously-operating exhibition hall. On 1 July 2004, the REB was the first Victorian site and the first Australian building to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. It followed the 1980s listings of places of outstanding natural and cultural significance such as Kakadu National Park, the Tasmanian Wilderness and the Great Barrier Reef.

Links:

Visions of Colonial Grandeur website: museumvictoria.com.au/colonial-grandeur

Visions of Colonial Grandeur book

John Twycross Melbourne International Exhibitions Collection on Collections Online

Australian sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List

Kids Fest - PLAY!

Author
by Phil
Publish date
30 June 2014
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It’s that time of year again, when we get incredibly excited about the amazing visitors coming to our Winter Kids Fest at the Immigration Museum - and this year they will be coming to PLAY! This year’s festival provides children and parents with the opportunity to experience a range of fun and exciting indoor and outdoor games, toys and activities from many cultures.

Children everywhere like to play with balls, jump, run and chase each other.  However the rules and equipment they use may be different depending on their own cultural traditions. Some games were originally based on religious ceremonies, while other games were based on mythology, folk customs and the routines of everyday life. On Sunday 6 July, children and their families will get the opportunity to discover these and many more for themselves.

Crowd of visitors in the Immigration Museum Theatrette. Crowd of visitors in the Immigration Museum Theatrette.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

On the ground floor we will have performances of Indigenous hip hop dancing along with a Punch and Judy Magic Show, while roving performances from the King Marong African drumming group will keep us entertained throughout the day.

  Children participating in workshops and activities during Kids Fest Punch and Judy during Kids Fest
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Upstairs we will be discovering traditional children’s games with the Play Lady in our Community Gallery and play traditional games enjoyed all over the world, including jacks, marbles, elastics, and spinning tops. In the Long Room there will be an opportunity for the children to make their own toys, in particular a kite to fly outside or decorate a set of babushka dolls. There will also be a treasure hunt challenge to find toys in our exhibitions – how many will your family find? 

Girl playing with babushka dolls Girl playing with babushka dolls
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In the Immigration Discovery Centre children will be able to challenge friends and family to a battle of tic tac toe, chess, snakes & ladders, or dominoes. There will also be a selection of online multicultural games available on our computers.

School Visitors Immigration Museum Children playing chess
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Meanwhile the fun will continue outside in the Festival and Market Street Courtyards for children to get active with skipping, quoits, bucket stilts, bocce, hopscotch and much more.

  Two children, a girl and a boy playing with coloured balls Two children, a girl and a boy playing with coloured balls
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Join in the revelry and celebrate worldwide games, toys and activities at this special one day festival.

Let the games begin!

Mexico in the World Cup

Author
by J. Patrick Greene
Publish date
30 May 2014
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Patrick is talking about Searching for the Aztecs in Mexico City as part of the Aztecs lecture series.

On 13 June, Mexico kicks off its World Cup campaign with a match against Cameroon in Group A in the group stage. Group A also contains Croatia and Brazil. Chances of a win against Brazil, the World Cup hosts, are not encouraging for Mexico. In three of Mexico’s 14 appearances in the World Cup these two teams have met, with Brazil scoring a total of eleven goals while conceding none. Mexican fans will be pinning their hopes on better results against Cameroon and Croatia. Mexico is lucky to be in the finals at all; after a series of indifferent results against other Latin American teams they scraped into the playoffs in which they qualified by beating New Zealand.

Perhaps the occasion will bring out the best in the Mexican team – and perhaps they will be inspired by a tradition of ball games that goes back to the Aztecs and other Mesoamerican civilisations. A ball game was an integral part of Aztec culture, with specially designed courts (or tlachtlis) placed in prominent locations in sacred and administrative precincts. However, it was not football. The rules required participants to use their hips and upper arms to keep the ball from touching the ground.

tlachti ball and ring Visitors to Aztecs can lift this replica ball - rather like a rubber cannonball - and imagine trying to propel it off their bodies and through the tiny hole in the stone ring.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In the exhibition is a replica of the heavy rubber ball that the Aztecs used. Despite wearing a thick belt around the lower waist, injuries could result. Even worse, the game sometimes ended in human sacrifice. On the other hand, if a player achieved the near-impossible feat of sending the ball through one of the pair of stone rings high on the long sides of the court they were entitled to the pick of the possessions of all the spectators!

On their shirts, the Mexican footballers will wear the crest of the Mexican Federation of Association Football. The crest shows a football in front of the Aztec calendar stone, surmounted by the eagle that was part of the Aztec foundation myth.

When Mexico players have a home match they perform in one of the world’s largest stadiums, the Estadio Azteca. Footballers that play for one of Mexico’s leading clubs, the Pumas de la UNAM, have as their home ground the Olympic Stadium, which has on its exterior a huge sculpture designed by Diego Rivera with Aztec symbolism such as the feathered serpent god, Quetzalcoatl. Mexicans will be expecting their footballing heroes to rise to the World Cup occasion, inspired by the country’s proud Aztec heritage.

Olympic Stadium in Mexico City Olympic Stadium in Mexico City showing the sculpture designed by Diego Rivera.
Image: Patrick Greene
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Live broadcast of 2014 FIFA World Cup matches at IMAX Melbourne Museum

  • Saturday June 14th @ 8:00am - CHILE vs AUSTRALIA
  • Sunday June 15th @ 8:00am - ENGLAND vs ITALY

More about the Aztec ball game at aztec-history.com

National Geographic: Aztec, Maya Were Rubber-Making Masters?

Why we can't give a stuff

Author
by Alice
Publish date
29 April 2014
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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

Two eclipses for April

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
11 April 2014
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Not one, but two eclipses will occur this month and both are partially visible from Melbourne.

Just before sunset on the 15th April, the Moon will rise already totally eclipsed. It should look quite eerie to see a red moon rising above the eastern horizon and it's always amazing how bright the Moon appears as it moves out of the Earth's shadow and returns to its usual splendour. While you are watching the eclipse, be sure to take a look at Mars, which will be just to the left of the Moon and the bright star Spica (in the constellation of Virgo) that will be found just above.

Lunar Eclipse The progression of a total lunar eclipse in August 2007.
Image: Phil Hart
Source: http://www.philhart.com/
 

Two weeks later on the 29th April, the Moon and Sun will come together in the sky and we'll see a partial solar eclipse. The eclipse will begin during the afternoon and reach its maximum point just before sunset. At the height of the eclipse 64% of the Sun's diameter will be covered by the Moon. The Sun will still be partially eclipsed as it sets below the western horizon.

Solar Eclipse The Moon takes a bite out of the Sun.
Image: Phil Hart
Source: http://www.philhart.com/
 

The timings for both the lunar and solar eclipse can be found from the Planetarium's monthly newsletter – Skynotes – which is a great guide for finding your way around the night sky.

Importantly, lunar eclipses are lovely to watch and you don't need any special equipment. Solar eclipses, on the other hand, require a bit of care and planning. Never look directly at the Sun.

There are safe ways to watch a solar eclipse and the easiest is to purchase special eclipse glasses. They are available from the Scienceworks shop and will allow you to watch the event, while protecting your eyesight.

You can also create a simple "pinhole" projection. It's as easy as making a small pinhole in a piece of paper or cardboard. Do not look through the hole, but allow the Sun to shine through and project an image onto a second piece of cardboard. Even a blank wall or a clear patch of ground can make a good surface for projection.

And as I've mentioned previously on the Museum's blog, sometimes nature helps out too. If you can see sunlight travelling through the leaves of a tree, you’ve got yourself some ready-made pinhole projections. Check the ground and it might be covered with little crescent Sun images, just like this great example from the Astronomy magazine website.

Big weekend for the bells

Author
by Susan Bamford-Caleo
Publish date
20 February 2014
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Susan manages the Federation Handbells lending program.

8 and 9 February will be remembered as a grand weekend for the Federation Handbells with their participation in two very important events in Melbourne.
 
The Federation Handbells and Museum Victoria have an exciting partnership with the Melbourne Recital Centre this year. The first part of this project took place last week with two composition workshops leading to a performance that opened the Melbourne Recital Centre’s 5th Birthday Celebrations on Saturday 8 February. The performance was called Birthday Bells.

Federation Handbells procession The Federation Handbells, after a procession down St Kilda Road to launch the festivities at the Melbourne Recital Centre, lead the way to the Elizabeth Murdoch Hall.
Source: Melbourne Recital Centre
 

The workshops were led by composer Steve Falk and me, with participation from percussionists Eugene Ughetti and Leah Scholes. Those enrolled in the workshops had responded to a general call-out and included people ranging widely in age and background. Over the days that we spent together, playing and creating with the Federation Handbells, a genuine sense of group identity was created, so much so that the participants have asked if we can form a Federation Handbells Players group and suggested that we call it Clang!

The excitement and enthusiasm of the participants and the connection that developed with each other and with the bells was a perfect example of the Federation Handbells fulfilling their commission. Wonderful! 

We very much appreciated the generous assistance and support of Kirsten and the Melbourne Recital Centre staff and can’t wait to get back there for the second part of our joint project, the Federation Handbells Residency (April to September, 2014). 

The other very significant event at which the Federation Handbells appeared that weekend was the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Fifth Anniversary Remembrance Event on Sunday 9 February. The handbells were played in a performance of Risen From The Flame by The Blacksmith’s Tree Youth Choir, a choir consisting of children from fire-affected communities. The children sang and played their composition led by Bridget Muir, a youth worker from Nillumbik Council. The piece was originally written by Bridget and the children for the launch of the Blacksmith’s Tree in Whittlesea in November, 2013.  You can view the performance in this YouTube video:

 

The Federation Handbells have contributed strongly to community involvement in a number of commemorations for the 2009 bushfires over the last five years and it highlights their importance as significant ceremonial instruments for Victorians.
 
We are looking forward to more big weekends with the Federation Handbells as they continue their important role in Victoria and beyond.

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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