Melbourne Museum

DISPLAYING POSTS FILED UNDER: Melbourne Museum (209)

Melbourne Museum

Melbourne Museum explores life in Victoria, from our natural environment to our culture and history. Located in Carlton Gardens, the building houses a permanent collection in eight galleries, including one just for children.

Taxidermy conservation workshop

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
18 March 2014
Comments
Comments (2)

It’s clear that the old penguin specimen needs a lot of work. Age or accident has detached the bird’s head from its body, and preparator Steven Sparrey is carefully working PVA glue into the break in the neck. This will consolidate the edge and provide a sound surface for reattachment. Eventually, preened feathers will conceal the join and the penguin will be whole again.

Damaged taxidermied penguin Detail of damaged taxidermied penguin specimen.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We’re at a workshop for people in the business of preserving natural history specimens – collection managers, preparators and conservators – led by visiting UK expert Simon Moore. The museum’s conservation laboratory is busy with people transforming elderly and damaged collection objects into exhibition-ready specimens, using specialist techniques that are very rarely taught in this country.

Taxidermy workshop Taxidermy conservation workshop in the conservation lab at Melbourne Museum.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Sometimes the damage occurs from wear and tear, especially where specimens have done time in the museum’s interpretive collection. Other times it’s inadequate preparation at time of taxidermy – overstuffed specimens tend to split as the skin shrinks with age. Simon explains, “many of the specimens are decades old, and materials just become more brittle with time. “A small bump when handling can have drastic results on a fragile specimen, and the head is often the first to go.
We turn back to Steven’s penguin. “The skin on birds in particular is very thin and vulnerable to tearing,” says Simon. “In this case, the neck was overstuffed. As the skin dries out and retracts back onto the underlying material, it starts to split.” 

The penguin also needs a wing reattached, so Steven drills a fine hole for a galvanised steel rod to hold the wing on a natural angle. Next to him, Michael Pennell is finishing work on a mounted Regent Bowerbird, freshly reunited with its tail and perch. “He’s a little bit cleaner than he was this morning and I’ve filled a few little holes and splits.”

Man and bird specimen Preparator Michael Pennell working on a Regent Bowerbird mount.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Elsewhere in the room, people are creating supporting armature for rabbit ears, cleaning feathers and mending tears in batwings with Japanese tissue. This tissue, says conservator Dani Measday, has unusually long fibres and resists tearing. “It means that it’s really strong and you can do all kinds of things with it. We use it to repair paper and books , but you can use it as fill, to strengthen and replicate fibres , or as a consolidating surface. What we’re doing with it here is making replacement skin. With adhesive, it has a tightness and tautness just like skin.”

repair to bat specimen Careful repairs to a bat specimen using Japanese tissue.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Karen Roberts and Brendon Taylor are restoring tiny bat specimens. It's painstaking work; they have pinned out the fragile wing membranes and patched the holes with Japanese tissue. The purpose of the specimen dictates the treatment from here. “A scientific collection item can have warts and all, with minimal intervention,” says Simon. “Here we could put a gentle lacquer to hide the tissue, but obviously for display you’ve got to colour them in.” The extent of treatment for exhibition work can be deceptive, as the conservation treatments aim to draw the eye away from repairs so the specimen can be read as a whole.

Two men with penguin specimen L-R: Preparator Dean Smith with Simon Moore, looking at a damaged King Penguin mount.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Simon’s own knowledge comes from decades of experimentation and consulting with natural history collections around the globe. “I’ve learned lots myself throughout the years and I’m trying to advance the technology, giving credit where it’s due. There aren’t many people doing taxidermy conservation and they keep trade secrets.” The techniques that Simon shares in workshops like this will help keep scientific and display specimens in good nick for study, research and exhibitions in years to come.

One-sixty

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
9 March 2014
Comments
Comments (0)

Harry Telford bought Phar Lap at auction for 160 guineas, back when Big Red was known only as "Good Walker, Great Shoulder, Very Strong Made Colt".

horse auction catalogue The page from the Annual New Zealand Thoroughbred Yearling Sales on 24 Jan 1928, with hand-written notes about Harry Telford's purchase. (HT 8465)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

There were 160 tradesmen working in the Engineering Workshops of the Kodak factory complex in Coburg.

Photo of Kodak workshop Men operating machinery in the Kodak Engineering Workshop, Coburg, circa 1963. (MM 95964)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Harry Johns drove his famous boxing troupe around in a bright red, customised International AR 160 Series truck.

Harry Johns' boxing truck Harry Johns' boxing troupe truck. (SH 961969)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This centuries-old English penny in our Numismatics Collection was given the registration number NU 160.

Edward 1 penny Penny, Edward I, England, 1280-1281 (NU 160)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

And today, Museum Victoria is 160 years old! On 9 March 1854, the Assay Office in La Trobe Street opened to the public. Surveyor-General Andrew Clarke arranged for two rooms on the first floor of the Assay Office to be aside for the new Museum of Natural History and its collections.

This letter from the Public Records Office of Victoria records the formal permission granted the newborn museum by Assay Master Dr Edward Davy. (We assume Clarke had taken the liberty of moving a few specimens in before the official word arrived.)

Letter from Assay Master Dr Edward Davy Copy of letter to Surveyor-General Andrew Clark from Assay Master Dr Edward Davy, 1854.
Source: PROV

Transcript:
Government Assay Office
Melbourne 28th Apr 1854
Sir,
In reply to your letter of 22nd inst enquiring what accommodation can be given at the Assay Office for receiving Specimens which may, from time to time, be forwarded to the intended Museum of Natural History, I have the honor to state that there are at present, two rooms on the first floor of the building disposable for the purpose referred to.
I have the honor to be, Sir, Your most Obdt Servant,
E. Davy
Assay Master

 

Now we just need to figure out how to fit 160 candles on a birthday cake... I think we're going to need two cakes.

Boy with two cakes Boy with two cakes on his third birthday, Prahran, 1942. (MM 110629)
Source: Museum Victoria

Visitor responses to Inside

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
10 February 2014
Comments
Comments (0)

From 29 August 2013 to 27 January 2014, Melbourne Museum hosted Inside: Life in Children's Homes and Institutions. This travelling exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in the wake of the Australian Government's 2009 national apology to Forgotten Australians and Former Child Migrants.

Visitor comment Comment left by visitor Sebastian that reads, "No child should suffer as much as this. "
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Some half a million children spent time in institutional care during the 20th century and while some feel that they were treated well, others experienced terrible suffering, neglect, and in the worst cases, abuse. This exhibition is presented through personal accounts of people who grew up in care. Sometimes harrowing, often distressing, Inside's purpose is to acknowledge stories that have long been suppressed or ignored.

An area of the exhibition was set aside with slips of paper and an invitation to visitors to record their reflections. Hundreds of visitors filled out a slip of paper and pinned it up, compiling a very intimate account of how they felt about the exhibition. Many of the comments are extremely personal and we thank visitors for sharing their experiences in such an open and honest way.

The excerpts and examples in this post show the range of responses from former residents of Children's Homes, their friends and families, and from people who had no previous connection to this awful part of our country's history.

My father lived in foster care. I still remember the stories of how he was beaten. It's so painful looking at these things. Caterina,19
1930s-1950s St Augustine's Geelong was my father's home from 5 weeks old. Messed him up for life, but he managed to be a wonderful husband, father and mate. Darren, 49
So sad, so ANGRY. Such abuse shapes your life and requires great courage, support and time to work through. Monique, 34
For my Grandfather, placed in the Ballarat Orphanage at age 3 in 1923. We never heard your full story as you didn't want to talk about it. This exhibition has given us an idea of what your life would have been like. May you rest in peace. xx Shaye, 37
Keep the truth shining and justice for all, I was 12 year old when I was put into a home for no reason at all like many girls. I will hold my head up / no shame. Suzanne, 45

Comment Comment left by visitor Claire at the Inside exhibition. It reads, "Words fail me. What I would give to be able to right all the wrongs."
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The homes are still with us today, happy for the ones who have been able to move on. Heather, 70
It was tough there but I turned out all right. Don, 74
I was seven when I was told I had nine other brothers and sisters and I had my first birthday party when I turned 17. Alf, 62
This is an authentic exhibition that reveals a very dark side of Australia's 20th century social history. The personal stories of abuse make me weak. But I do not perceive the story told to be wholly balanced. Mark Scott (MD of the ABC) was a child migrant and internee at Fairbridge, NSW. A few resilient souls did rise above the indifferent care at orphanages and achieved success. Tell that story too please. David, 59
It was foster care for me… 10 long years of moving from house to house. At Christmas time three houses in one week. The memories of a gift bring tears to my eyes. A simple Beatles poster from strangers. These people had taken time to find out what I liked – meant the world to me. Never abused but never loved, roof over my head but not a home, always alone but for the memory of that Beatles poster. That memory brings me warmth. That Christmas I was known. Juliette, 36
I am so sorry for ever saying 'it's in the past, get over it,' 'I didn't do it, why should I pay!’ - I now understand my ignorance to these horrific occurrences. My compassion is at large thanks to this display. Anon age 18

Visitor comment Comment left visitor Michael to Inside. It reads, "They stole our dignity"
Source: Museum Victoria
 

If you missed Inside but would like to know more, the NMA Inside website contains many of the exhibition's stories and objects. Inside: Life in Children's Homes and Institutions travels next to the Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle from 14 March to 29 June 2014 and to the Queensland Museum, Brisbane from 9 August to 16 November 2014.

Sea anemone feast

Author
by Michela Mitchell
Publish date
7 February 2014
Comments
Comments (5)

Michela is the first resident taxonomist of Actiniaria (sea anemones) in Australia. This title doesn't come with a ceremonial sash, but it should.

Photographed by Dr Julian Finn on a recent dive trip to Nelson Bay, New South Wales, this sea anemone is taking on a shrimp feast to rival that of an Aussie BBQ. 

Sea anemone A sea anemone, Phlyctenanthus australis, chowing down on a Hinge-back Shrimp, Rhynchocinetes serratus. There's also a photobombing chiton in the background.
Image: Julian Finn
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Little has been documented about the diets of sea anemones, particularly in Australia. These chance encounters and images help us understand these predominately sedentary animals (although, they can set a cracking pace if they so desire) and what role they play in the marine ecosystem. 

Sea anemones are opportunistic feeders that catch whatever food passes by. Prey is ensnared and then immobilised with specialised stinging cells (nematocysts) found in the tissue of sea anemones.

There are many different types of nematocysts and each has its own function; some are sticky for catching prey, some poisonous, others are used in self-defence. When feeding, the anemone extrudes its mouth and throat (actinopharynx) over the prey, sometimes completely enclosing it. The sea anemone then crushes and digests the food in the throat, which also acts as the gullet. Food waste is then ejected back out the mouth, which doubles as the anus.

Not all sea anemones are totally reliant on eating; some have a symbiosis with zooxanthellae (microscopic algae) that live in their tissues, and the sea anemone can use nutrients created by the photosynthesising algae.

Classic Japanese James Bond car on show

Author
by Shane Salmon
Publish date
5 February 2014
Comments
Comments (0)

Shane works in the Exhibitions team, and stays interested in most things techy, as well as old and new music.

Melbourne Museum does not host many motor vehicles, but the Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style exhibition has showcased three very special cars. An iconic 1964 Aston Martin DB5 used in Goldeneye and Skyfall travels with the exhibition and appears at the entrance. Another Aston Martin, a 1969 DBS from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was on display in the museum foyer from mid-October until mid-December.

Currently in the main foyer of Melbourne Museum is a very rare car that appeared in the 1967 James Bond film You Only Live Twice — a 1966 Toyota 2000GT convertible. 

Toyota 2000GT Front view of the Toyota 2000GT now on display in the Melbourne Museum foyer.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

You Only Live Twice was shot predominantly in Japan and the film’s producers requested an exotic, locally-produced vehicle worthy of a James Bond production. They saw images of the yet-to-be released 2000GT, and knew they had found their car.

Two models of the vehicle were used for filming, and were made into convertibles to enable the crew to get better shots of the actors and the interior. A common misconception is that the cars were modified because Sean Connery was too tall to fit in them, but the request was made to Toyota before production commenced. The two vehicles used for production were the only 2000GT convertibles ever produced. 

Toyota 2000GT Interior of the Toyota 2000GT
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The 2000GT was one vehicle that James Bond did not get to drive, as his Japanese accomplice Aki (played by Akiko Wakabayashi), drove him firstly to meet his contact Mr Henderson, before twice rescuing him from inevitable danger. The car is memorably introduced when Bond greets Aki at a sumo wrestling tournament with the code phrase “I love you”, and she responds with “I have a car” — lines written by Roald Dahl.

Only 337 models of the 2000GT were ever produced, making it a very rare and desirable car for collectors around the world. This particular model is a popular attraction at the Toyota Automobile Museum in Aichi, Japan and is on loan to Melbourne Museum until the exhibition closes.

Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style runs until 23 February 2014.

Toyota 2000GT Museum CEO Dr Patrick Green checking out the Toyota 2000GT.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

All hands on deck with LEGO®

Author
by Bronwyn
Publish date
20 January 2014
Comments
Comments (0)

Bronwyn is the manager of MV's Discovery Centres.

Melbourne Museum’s LEGO® Mystery Mosaic summer holiday activity is proving very popular with visitors, and they are assembling mosaic squares faster than we ever anticipated. Our Manager of Education and Community Programs, Georgie Meyer,  put out a call to all museum staff to help prepare the next mosaic board for our enthusiastic visitors.

visitors with lego Melbourne Museum visitors constructing pieces of the mosaic.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Girl holding lego The mosaic is made from 4,600 of these mosaic squares, each covered in coloured tiny LEGO® blocks.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

woman with lego mosaic Susie placing a completed piece onto the mosaic board.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

To keep this activity running, two giant 4m x 2m mosaic boards are rotated; as one board is completed a new one is rolled out. Preparing the new board involves a mammoth effort to unpick 170,000 tiny LEGO® blocks from 4,600 mosaic squares. Georgie and the public programs crew thought we would have a ten day turnaround to do this, however it is taking only five days for our eager visitors to fill a board!

LEGO® Mystery Mosaic James Bond starting to emerge from the mosaic.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Staff from all over the museum – including managers, web programmers, preparators, designers, technicians, volunteers, customer service officers, educators, information services folk, even the CEO – have spent an hour or two at the makeshift drop-in centre to disassemble the mosaic. While taking it apart is perhaps not as much fun as putting it together, it's enjoyable knowing we are contributing to a wonderful visitor experience. 

people unpacking lego Behind the scenes, museum staff and volunteers disassembling the mosaic ready for visitors to construct it again.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

 

The LEGO® Mystery Mosaic runs until 26 January 2014.

About this blog

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

Categories