MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Dec 2011 (19)

HV McKay crate

Author
by Liza Dale-Hallett
Publish date
27 December 2011
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Liza Dale-Hallett is a senior curator in the History and Technology Department. She is responsible for the Sustainable Futures Collection, which includes historical agricultural machinery.

Ken Porter, a former Transport Manager at agricultural machinery manufacturer Massey Ferguson, accidentally stumbled into heritage conservation when he rescued a wooden box from a dumpster in 1991. He thought the box might be some use to him at home, but noticed that a square of cardboard was nailed to it, reading: The plaster cast of H.V. McKay. Not to be opened until another one needed.

Ken Porter Ken Porter, Volunteer at Scienceworks, with the mysterious crate he rescued from a dumpster.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

For another five years Ken secretly rescued nearly 100 years of history of the McKay manufacturing enterprise. This 'rubbish' was squirreled away and subsequently offered to Museum Victoria where it now forms one of Australia's most significant industrial heritage collections.

'No one thinks of history. Until I found that box I didn't either. It takes a quirk of fate that keeps these things,' recalls Ken, now an Honorary Associate of Museum Victoria. Since 1996, Ken and 20 other ex-employees (with many more from around Australia) have been busy identifying and documenting the collection of 15,000 images, over 700 films, numerous objects, and over 5,000 trade publications.

H.V. McKay  |  Sunshine Harvester brochure Left: Portrait of Hugh Victor McKay. 1912. | Right: Seedtime and Harvest Shall Never Cease: H. V. McKay, General Implement Catalogue, Sunshine Harvester Works
Source: Museum Victoria
 

From humble beginnings, H.V. McKay created the largest industrial enterprise in the southern hemisphere. His equipment was widely used on farms across Australia and was exported to over 150 countries. Following McKay's death, his legacy to Australian agriculture continued through McKay Massey Harris, and later Massey Ferguson (Australia). In 1986, after a period of over 80 years of manufacturing in Sunshine, the company ceased production. This period of major change also included a significant 'clean up' of old company records, which is when Ken's rescue efforts began.

After so many years documenting the McKay Collection, the crate remained a mystery waiting to be revealed. What was inside? How could we open it without damaging the contents?

Michael Varcoe-Cocks, Conservator of Paintings at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), volunteered his expertise in radiography to help examine the construction and content of the crate before it was opened. Radiography reveals physical features not otherwise visible to the naked eye. It is often employed to better understand the condition and method of manufacture of a work of art, and doesn't harm the object.

Examining the x-ray films at NGV Examining the x-ray films at NGV.
Image: Justin Schooneman
Source: NGV
 

The x-ray was performed in the NGV's Technical Examination Room. Michael enclosed the crate in lead then passed a beam of x-rays through it. Film sensitive to x-rays recorded an image of the crate, inside and out, which provided useful information for MV Conservator Karen Fisher about how to open the crate. Karen used a Japanese Cat's Paw (mini crow bar) to gently lift the rear panels; inside were two profile reliefs of H.V. McKay, both in plaster, not a 'bust' as indicated on the outside of the crate.

MV Conservator Karen Fisher opening the crate with a Japanese Cat's Paw. MV Conservator Karen Fisher opening the crate with a Japanese Cat's Paw.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

two profile reliefs of H.V. McKay. The two profile reliefs of H.V. McKay.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Karen then turned to the letter secured by drawing pins to the front of the crate. She used humidification and a heated spatula to make the paper more flexible and break the seal. The letter confirmed that Wallace Anderson was the sculptor commissioned to create the relief profiles. Anderson worked as an artist for the Australian War Museum, the Australian War Memorial and as an independent sculptor. Anderson's most famous works are 'Simpson and his Donkey' (1935), and busts of nine former Australian prime ministers located in the Ballarat Botanic Gardens (1939-45). He also created the bust of H.V. McKay now on display in The Melbourne Story.

We still don't know why the profiles were created or whose initials are represented on the lower edge of one of the plaster moulds... but after 20 years, the crate's contents are finally free.

Links:

H.V. McKay Sunshine Collection

Didgeridoo jam

Author
by Amanda
Publish date
25 December 2011
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Comments (2)

Christmas came early last week for 12-year-old Cole, who enjoyed a special visit to Melbourne Museum. He was greeted by Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre Manager Caroline Martin and one of Victoria's best didgeridoo players, Ron Murray.

Caroline and Cole Bunjilaka manger Caroline and Cole in the Forest Gallery.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

A keen didgeridoo player, Cole took in some valuable tips from Ron as they jammed together in the Forest Gallery. Ron was impressed with Cole's didgeridoo playing skills, claiming he has "good, strong cheeks" to master the traditional Aboriginal instrument.

Cole and Ron jamming Cole and Ron jamming on didgeridoos.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Cole has cerebral palsy and is able to walk independently in his Hart Walker, which has been life-changing for him. 'Exploring the museum and walking through the Forest Gallery are something other families may take for granted. For me it's a reminder of how far Cole has come since he received his Hart Walker,' said Cole's mum Darise.

'Seeing Cole enjoy playing his didgeridoo with Ron Murray has made this one of the best days of the year for me', said Caroline Martin. 'I'm so glad that Bunjilaka is able to provide these experiences to children who are passionate about Aboriginal culture. I think Cole loved this special early Christmas gift'.

Cole and Ron with their instruments. Cole and Ron with their instruments.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Bunjilaka Aboriginal Cultural Centre

Forest Secrets in the Forest Gallery

Active science education

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
23 December 2011
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This week the Australian Academy of Sciences (AAS) released a study that presents some interesting figures on the declining number of year 11 and 12 students in Australia who are studying science – it was a hot topic in the Museum Victoria offices!

The name of the report, The Status and Quality of Year 11 and 12 Science in Australian Schools, may be a bit dry, but the findings are very relevant to us all.

One of the main recommendations was to involve students in science at an earlier age and to make learning about science an active experience as opposed to a spectator experience. This approach is very dear to the museum, so as the year draws to a close, we asked some of our experts in science education to give their highlights of programs that actively engage students in science.

 


Priscilla Gaff, Program Coordinator - Life Sciences, Melbourne Museum

'I enjoyed the program, because even though it was about science it was turned into something fun,' said a Year 9 student after participating a new science and multimedia program at Melbourne Museum, 600 million years in 60 seconds.

Ouch! The science-loving teacher within me is astounded that the quote doesn't read more along the lines of 'because it was science it was fun'. But the realist within me knows that that actually this quote offers cause for celebration, especially in light of the new report from the AAS showing the dramatic fall in the number of students choosing to study science.

In 600 Million Years in 60 Seconds, groups of three students are given a mission: to produce a 60 second science clip about evolution to show to the rest of their class... in 25 minutes! And they do it – fabulously! – using the real objects and research on display in 600 Million Years: Victoria evolves.

Secondary school students completing education program. Secondary school students using cameras and movie-making kits as part of 600 million years in 60 seconds.
Image: James Geer
Source: Museum Victoria
 

education program movie-making kit. The education program movie-making kit.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This program offers this age group exactly what the report recommends: science education that captures the interest of year 7 to 10 students. It allows students to be creators and investigators, rather than simply consumers of facts.

 


Pennie Stoyles, Public Programs Manager, Scienceworks

Two years ago the team at Scienceworks changed the ways we communicate with students about science. The aim was to develop programs that encourage students not to think of science in a fixed way, but rather approach it as one does problem-solving – by making mistakes and learning from them. This is how Scienceworks promotes 'active science' in education.

For example, our Experiment Zone provides hands-on enquiry-based science and maths activities for students from across Victoria – and it features chemicals and robots (what more can you ask for?). In 2011 we've seen students from years 3 to 6 investigate soil chemistry by devising a fair test to measure water retention.

Benjamin Quint studies a model robot Benjamin Quint studies a model robot controlled by an iPad from the Robot Reboot education program at Scienceworks.
Image: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Middle year students have used data loggers to measure, record and analyse physical phenomena and to better understand graphing as a scientific and mathematical tool.

Life sized models and puzzles inspired students to actively learn about problem solving as a mathematical process... and then we have the previously mentioned robots.

Robots were used to find 'hidden treasure' in a program where students also learn about problem solving and the use of robots in the mining industry. The idea was to get students programming the robots, and in the process making mistakes and trying again.

The skills learnt in these programs encourage engagement with science, and help students to translate the information into real life problem solving.

 


Mirah Lambert, Online Learning Manager, Museum Victoria

student participating in the Biodiversity Snapshots fieldwork project.
A student from Lara Primary School participating in the Biodiversity Snapshots fieldwork project.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

It seems almost everyone has a mobile device nowadays, so why not tap into that in learning? Biodiversity Snapshots is a mobile tool that enables students to observe and report biodiversity in their school, local park or bushland. It contains a field guide with more than 650 species, observation reports and the ability to upload data.

Biodiversity Snapshots was developed by Museum Victoria to assist students and teachers to take field trips and report on their local fauna. It is intended that a broad range of environments in south-eastern Australia will be surveyed, including urban, bushland and coastal areas.

With nearly 1000 observations reported, and almost 200 species identified, Biodiversity Snapshots has demonstrated that through the use of mobile technology, primary and secondary students can build environmental awareness and become real citizen scientists.

 


At Museum Victoria, we encourage students to investigate, construct and test explanations about the natural world using real specimens, experiments and new media. We hope that by continuing our work in this area we can help more students get excited about science!

Links:

Bridge Building

Biodiversity Snapshots

The Status and Quality of Year 11 and 12 Science in Australian Schools (PDF, 2.41 MB, via Australian Academy of Sciences)

Summer solstice

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
21 December 2011
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I’ve always loved summer – nothing beats the summer holidays, trips to the beach, warm sunshine and lazy summer evenings. But this year it means even more to me, because right now we are putting the finishing touches on a new planetarium show that opens on 26 December.

The summer solstice (22 December) is that day of the year when the Sun's path reaches its highest and longest across the sky. Our new show Tilt is a whirlwind adventure that describes how the seasons work.

summer solstice from Tilt In the new show Tilt, Kelvin (the robot) shows Annie and Max the long path of the Sun on the summer solstice.
Image: Melbourne Planetarium
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The changing seasons are so important to the way we live our lives. The summer holidays, the changing colours of autumn, the cosiness of winter and the blossoming of spring. And all this happens because our Earth spins on a tilted axis.

Without this tilt our days, year-in and year-out, would be the same. The Sun would always rise due east and set due west. The Sun’s path through the sky would be constant, reaching the same height every day. There’d also be 12 hours of daylight followed by 12 hours of night.

The tilt is what shakes this all up. Most importantly, the tilt varies the direction at which sunlight hits the Earth. Our warm days of summer occur when sunlight beams down most directly because our part of the world is tilted towards the Sun.

So enjoy the summer solstsice and the remarkable difference a little tilt on the world can make.

Links

Session Times for Tilt

The Sun and the seasons

Award for Jan Molloy

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
20 December 2011
Comments
Comments (5)

Jan Molloy's profound contribution to Victoria's multicultural community was recognised at the 2011 Multicultural Awards for Excellence ceremony at Government House last week. She received a Service Delivery to Multicultural Victoria Award, which was presented to her by Premier Ted Baillieu.

Jan Molloy and Ted Baillieu Jan Molloy and Premier Ted Baillieu at Government House for the 2011 Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

These awards are presented annually to celebrate the contributions of individuals and organisations that promote the social, economic and cultural benefits of Victoria's multicultural community. The Governor, Alex Chernov AO QC, and Mrs Chernov presided, and guests included the Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship, Nicholas Kotsiras, plus more than 500 members of the state's multicultural community.

Jan Molloy and Minister of Education Martin Dixon. Jan Molloy and Minister of Education Martin Dixon at Government House for the 2011 Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Linda Sproul, Nicholas Kotsiras and Jan Molloy L-R: Linda Sproul, Minister for Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Nicholas Kotsiras and Jan Molloy at Government House for the 2011 Victorian Multicultural Awards for Excellence.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

After more than two decades of teaching, Jan joined Museum Victoria in 2006 and she coordinates humanities programs at the Immigration Museum. Over the years, Jan's passionate belief in the power of education to build strong communities has driven several innovative programs for teachers and students, including:

Narratives Across Cultures: a partnership program with both Deakin University and VUT leading to an ALTC research project 'Teaching and Learning in Public Spaces'

Cultural Diversity Quest: a partnership program with DEECD celebrating cultural diversity in our secondary schools, culminating in an exhibition at the Immigration Museum for Cultural Diversity Week 2010

Small Object Big Story: A program in which participants learn research techniques, explore their personal histories, uncover the stories embedded in familiar objects, and learn how to share their discoveries through exhibitions and publications. This program formed the basis for Making History.

Congratulations Jan Molloy!

Links:

Immigration Museum education programs

MV Blog: Making History with the experts

Thank you to our donors

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
20 December 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

Where would we be without our donors? Thanks to the generosity of our supporters and donors, Museum Victoria's collections (and thus, the collections belonging to all Victorians), research, exhibitions and facilities are much enriched. To acknowledge our donors and express our gratitude, we held an official thankyou event at Melbourne Museum last month.

People looking into showcase Guests viewing Twycross collection objects at the donor thankyou event.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Sarah Myer and Tim Hart Sarah Myer (Trustee, Yulgilbar Foundation and Myer Foundation, wife of Baillieu Myer) and Tim Hart (Director IMT) at the event.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Recent donations to Museum Victoria include:

  • An omnicycle from 1880
  • An important collection of butterflies
  • A slab of tiger eye that features in Dynamic Earth
  • Pendle Hall Dolls' House
  • Support for a research fellowship
  • Assistance with the upgrade of the Immigration Museum Discovery Centre
  • The Twycross Collection of decorative arts
  • Support of the Bunjilaka redevelopment

On the evening, Senior Curator Lindy Allen toured the guests through the Ancestral Power and the Aesthetic exhibition and specially selected Twycross Collection objects were on display.

Lindy Allen and Ross Field Lindy Allen (Senior Curator - Anthropology Northern Australia) talking to donor Ross Field and his wife in the Ancestral Power exhibition. Ross donated a significant selection of butterflies to MV.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Many of our donors have given objects of tremendous personal significance to the museum, and it is quite an honour to be entrusted with them. Financial support has enabled valuable research projects and much-needed exhibition renewal. As MV CEO Patrick Greene said, "It was wonderful to meet so many of our generous supporters, and be able to thank them personally. Whether the donation is a priceless object or financial support, it is greatly appreciated and supports the work of our exhibitions, research and programs."

Donors at donor event Martin Carlson (Treasurer, Hugh D. T. Williamson Foundation), with Will and Margie Twycross beside selected items from the Twycross collection they donated to MV.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Donate to MV

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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