Events and Programs

DISPLAYING POSTS FILED UNDER: Events and Programs (118)

Events and Programs

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

Restaging old photos

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
20 November 2013
Comments
Comments (4)

Simon is a presenter with MV’s Outreach Program. He travels all over metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria in one of our two Outreach vans with a dinosaur sticker on the side. You should give the vans a toot if you see them.

There is a photography saying that claims that the best camera is the one you have with you.

Outreach van in the stars The Museum Victoria Outreach Program van under the stars.
Image: Simon Conlon
Source: Museum Victoria
 

It seems obvious, then, to take my best camera with me when traveling around Victoria delivering the museum's Outreach Program. First I took some pictures of our Outreach van against the starry sky and then our team had the great idea of searching our collections for objects connected to the regions we were going to. With a quick search of MV Collections Online I would be armed with a handful of photographs from yesteryear to re-stage.

Castlemaine Post Office, 1894 Castlemaine Post Office, 1894. (MM 004334)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Castlemaine Post Office, 2013 Castlemaine Post Office, 2013
Image: Simon Conlon
Source: Museum Victoria
 

These photographs are from my recent trip to Castlemaine and they proved tricky to find. During my hunt I approached a local gentleman, Brian Cornish, who looked over all the photos but could only place one - the State Electricity Commission building. Directions memorised, I jumped in the van and found it straight away. I had just taken my first picture when Brian reappeared in his car. He had remembered the locations of the other pictures and beckoned me to follow him in convoy. Half an hour later, handshakes and thanks were exchanged and I was on my way with three pictures in the bag - or at least in-camera, on-card. 

State Electricity Commission building, Castlemaine, 1949. State Electricity Commission building, Castlemaine, 1949. (MM 011468)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Castlemaine State Electricity Commission Castlemaine State Electricity Commission building in 2013. The Outreach Van is parked around the corner.
Image: Simon Conlon
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The original pictures were taken on glass plate negatives using a large-format box camera, just like the one you might imagine: on a tripod with the photographer under a heavy black cloth at the back, only without the handheld puff of flash powder. Both the tripod and box would have been weighty and cumbersome,  and in addition, the light-sensitive, heavy glass plates would be carried in a sealed box of their own. Not like our own pocket-sized versions. All this would make the photographer very picky about what they photograph. 

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, 1894 Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, 1894.(MM 004338)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, 2013 Castlemaine Botanical Gardens, 2013
Image: Simon Conlon
Source: Museum Victoria
 

(Speaking of picky, this is the closest I could get to the original photo as the geography has changed since.)

You can catch the some of the Outreach team and their treasures at the RACV Energy Breakthrough Festival on Saturday 23 November in Maryborough.

Alpine Bioscan

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
19 November 2013
Comments
Comments (4)

Nearly 30 museum scientists, staff and associates left Melbourne Museum early yesterday morning, headed for the Alpine National Park. They’re embarking on the next major Parks Bioscan – a program of intensive biodiversity surveys that MV performs, in partnership with Parks Victoria, of some of the state’s most wildlife-rich national parks. Volunteers from 4WD Victoria are providing additional help with access to the more remote and rugged parts of this cold and mountainous area.

Scientists at Bairnsdale sign Lunch stop at Bairnsdale for the MV scientists on the trip up the the Alpine National Park.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

As the team was packing up last week, I talked with Dr Karen Rowe about the gear the crews are taking into the field – namely nine iPads that will be used to collect data about the observations, samples and specimens taken by our experts.

iPad data collection system Karen's iPad ready to collect field data.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Using iPads will allow the scientists and collection managers to upload the data directly into the museum’s collection database, EMu. This replaces the time-honoured tradition of recording data with pens and paper… followed by hours of painstaking transcription. Almost inevitably, transcription errors, bad handwriting, rain-sodden paper and other data disasters affect information brought back from the field this way.

The tablets have other benefits, too: an on-board GPS means that every observation is linked with a location, and the data collected for each location is standardised across the scientific disciplines. They also link to topographical maps, vegetation maps, and other useful field tools like the iPad’s camera and audio recording functions. In the case of alpine frogs, there are species that can only be distinguished by their calls so audio recording is vital to correct identification.

But why do the scientists collect all this data? Surely a biodiversity survey is just a big checklist of species? Karen explained that if you collect a specimen (or make an observation) without recording all the other information about that collection event, you "might as well have not collected the critter. We have a lot of specimens in the museum that have no provenance or location data. It’s useful as an exercise to help you understand that particular species but not the context in which it lives." Careful notes about the exact location (under a rock, up a tree), time of day (dawn, midday), and other factors help to flesh out the ecology and behaviour of a species.

"Particularly in areas that are hard to get to – and Sulawesi is a prime example – a lot of the species listed in the IUCN Red List are data deficient," continued Karen. "We don’t know anything about them or the habitats they’re in." Without that information, biologists can’t be sure of the scarcity of the species; a little-known tree-dwelling rat could seem extinct if you’re only looking for them on the ground.

The iPad will also help the museum photographers to attach species information to photographs taken in the field, which makes the images much more useful for research and reporting what we’ve found. Plus, teams can make accurate observations about animals outside their field of expertise – the entomologists can record the calls of birds, for example – for verification by the ornithologists later. That means a more thorough survey of the region.

Of course, in case of technical malfunction, Karen has a backup plan: the folders, clipboards and data sheets of yore. They’re charmingly labelled ‘Old fashioned iPads’ and to be used only in case of emergency.

box of field notebooks Old-school: the back-up field notebooks packed and ready to to to the Alps Bioscan.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

In addition to traps and sampling equipment, these field scientists have packed gear for extreme weather, including four-season tents, sleeping bags, thermal underwear and more. And of course, the field gear most important for maintaining morale after 12-hour days in hilly wilderness: comfort snacks!

  Supplies for the biodiversity survey Field supplies packed up for the Alps Bioscan. Left: bait for the mammal traps include cat food and vanilla essence. Right: while the bush rats are drawn to fishy and floral scents, the scientists prefer chocolate.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

If you live in the Victorian Alps, come along to our Science at the Pub event at the end of the Bioscan at Omeo's Golden Age Hotel, Friday 29 November 6:30 PM. Meet the scientists and see what they've found in the park.

Links:

Parks Victoria media release about the Alps Bioscan

Wild: Victorian Alps

MV Blog posts from the 2011 Prom Bioscan and 2012 Grampians Bioscan

Guide to Victorian butterflies

Author
by Simon
Publish date
10 September 2013
Comments
Comments (0)

Dr Ross Field, a former head of Sciences at Museum Victoria, has compiled a spectacular book on one of his passions: butterflies of Victoria. Butterflies: Identification and life history is the result of many years of painstaking work on Ross’s part and covers all aspects of the lifecycle of these eternally popular insects.

Egg Tailed Emperor Butterfly Lateral view of the Tailed Emperor Butterfly egg
Image: Simon Hinkley & Ken Walker
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Incredible images take readers through the lifecycle of each species from egg, through caterpillar and the food plant it eats, pupa and finally adult. The magnified images of the eggs are stunning and allow us to view and admire objects usually too small to notice. The eggs can be ornamented, ribbed, round or cigar shaped and come in a range of colours. Depending on the viewer some people see a range of jellies or blancmanges when they look at some of these images, (or maybe that’s just me). In fact a selection of these egg shots is touring selected Victorian cultural venues as part of The Art of Science exhibition.

  Caterpillar larva Tailed Emperor Caterpillar of the Tailed Emperor Butterfly
Image: Ross Field
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Collecting the eggs of numerous species for photographing was a big undertaking; Ross has spent many hours in a host of locations watching butterflies circle until they land to lay their eggs. A sample of the eggs were collected and brought back to Melbourne Museum to be photographed using our camera/microscope set up. Prior to this book, anyone other than an expert who collected an egg would have to wait until the egg hatched and the caterpillar had reached one of its later instars before being able to hazard a guess at the species. With this new guide, the ability for the general public to undertake identifications in the field is greatly expanded.    

Pupa Tailed Emperor Pupa of the Tailed Emperor Butterfly
Image: Ross Field
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The egg images might also raise questions such as why do butterflies from the Pieridae family tend to lay cigar shaped eggs? Why do the eggs of some species have a series of lateral ribs running around the surface? Is there an evolutionary advantage to laying sculptured eggs? In short, this comprehensive field guide gives a new vision into the fascinating world of Victorian butterflies and helps to educate and provoke our interest into further research and conservation. 

Adult Tailed Emperor butterfly Adult Tailed Emperor Butterfly
Image: Ross Field
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Butterflies: Identification and life history. A Museum Victoria field guide by Ross Field. Available in paperback from MV shops or as an eBook from  iTunes or Booktopia.

Melbourne Zoo: 10 steps to a butterfly garden

Drawing class in the Discovery Centre

Author
by Max
Publish date
5 September 2013
Comments
Comments (0)

We recently had a request from Debbie Mourtzios, a teacher at Box Hill Institute, to hold a drawing class for Graphic Design students at the Discovery Centre using natural science specimens.

Discovery Centre Drawing class Discovery Centre Drawing class
Image: Debbie Mourtzios
Source: Debbie Mourtzios
 

As the theme of the class was texture, Debbie asked if we could supply examples of fur, feathers, scales, claws, wings, or anything that can illustrate textures.

  Discovery Centre Drawing class Discovery Centre Drawing class
Image: Debbie Mourtzios
Source: Debbie Mourtzios
 

We contacted our Vertebrates Collection Manager who gladly loaned us specimens from the Mammal, Bird and Herpetology collections. We also used specimens in the DC’s interpretive collection. We had bird wings, an echidna, a glass sponge skeleton, a bird of paradise, various bones, reptiles, shark egg cases, all on tables in the Seminar Room, plus all the interpretive collection objects in the Discovery Centre itself. They were not wont for variety.

  Discovery Centre Drawing class Discovery Centre Drawing class
Image: Max Strating
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The eighteen students spent two hours drawing the various specimens. It was very rewarding to watch the students using the centre and its resources; it was also unusually quiet for such a large group. I guess that’s what focused attention sounds like.

Discovery Centre Drawing class Discovery Centre Drawing class
Image: Debbie Mourtzios
Source: Debbie Mourtzios
 

Links

Victoria & Albert Museum

Premiere of Federation Handbells composition

Author
by Susan Bamford Caleo
Publish date
30 July 2013
Comments
Comments (1)

Susan is the Federation Handbells Officer at Museum Victoria.

On Thursday 11th July, Arts Centre Melbourne rang out to the sounds of the Federation Handbells in the world premiere of Welcome. The handbells were played by internationally acclaimed composer/percussionist Steve Falk with students from Blackburn High School. It launched the 2013 Sounds Great! Conference for the Association of Music Educators (aMuse) and was received with great enthusiasm and delight.

playing federation bells The world premiere of Welcome performed by Steve Falk and students from Blackburn High
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

The Federation Handbells are a collection of beautifully crafted, tuned bells, originally commissioned by Arts Victoria for the 2001 Centenary of Federation. These bells are available on loan for public or private events, local festivals, school programs, commemorative occasions and performances. Earlier in 2013 Museum Victoria approached the organisers of the conference to have a Federation Handbells display or workshop as part of the program and was invited not only to take part but to open the event. The ‘Welcome’ project was born.

playing the federation bells The world premiere of Welcome performed by Steve Falk and students from Blackburn High School
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

Museum Victoria commissioned Steve Falk to compose a piece for the Federation Handbells that could bring together performers of various levels of musical ability and provide a meaningful musical experience for musicians and non-musicians alike. Steve met this challenge beautifully and has created a piece that can be rehearsed and performed as a secondary school music project or by community groups at music festivals or other public events.

playing the federation bells Steve Falk and students from Blackburn High School rehearse Welcome
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

We are thrilled to say that the Welcome composition will be freely available as a resource on the MV Federation Handbells website from October 2013. As well as the score there will be notes about the composition and two short films, one that takes us behind the scenes with interviews and rehearsal footage, and the other that shows the premiere performance at Arts Centre Melbourne.

The Welcome project invites you to experience the wonderful potential to bring people together creatively with the Federation Handbells. It is an opportunity to be inspired!

The Federation Handbells are managed by Museum Victoria's Outreach Program on behalf of Arts Victoria. To make a booking request please follow this link to the Federation Handbells website.

Rare Book Discovery Day

Author
by Hayley
Publish date
23 July 2013
Comments
Comments (1)

On Saturday 20 July, four antiquarian booksellers and the museum's paper conservator joined forces to provide a free valuation and conservation service to the public as part of Melbourne Rare Book Week 2013. Peter Arnold (Peter Arnold Antiquarian Booksellers), Justin Healy (Grub Street Bookshop), Stuart Kells (Books of Kells) and Douglas Stewart (Douglas Stewart Fine Books) spent three hours assessing inherited or collected items for their market value. Paper Conservator Belinda Gourley spoke to visitors about appropriate storage and care of old or rare books.

It was interesting to see the variety of material that visitors brought along, which ranged from a Walter Scott novel to an early nineteenth century musical notation book.

Three women looking at a book Conservator Belinda Gourley provides some storage and care advice for a musical notation book dating from 1804.
Image: Hayley Webster
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The find of the day was a 1907 exhibition catalogue of women's work held at the Royal Exhibition Building.

Women's Work catalogue 1907 catalogue of women's work
Source: Kay Craddock
 

This was of particular interest to library staff, as our Rare Book Collection includes a range of exhibition catalogues relating to exhibitions held at the Royal Exhibition Building. We also took the chance to show off a couple of items from our own rare book collection, including the very rare A Monograph of the Psittacidae or Parrot Family of Australia, which is held by only two libraries worldwide.

Three people looking at rare book Library Manager Leonie Cash displaying Monograph of the Psittacidae or Parrot Family of Australia by Rev. J. J. Halley to booksellers Peter Arnold and Justin Healy.
Image: Hayley Webster
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The event was great fun, and it was fantastic to participate in the second Melbourne Rare Book Week. Thanks to everyone who attended!

Links:

Follow Melbourne Rare Book Week on Facebook

View digitised plates from A Monograph of the Psittacidae or Parrot Family of Australia on the Google Art Project

About this blog

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

Categories