MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Feb 2011 (13)

Newmarket Saleyards turn 150

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
17 February 2011
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Have you ever passed the weathered, rough-hewn post and rail fences near the corner of Smithfield and Flemington Roads? These are the remains of the former Newmarket Saleyards which opened 150 years ago this month.

Newmarket Saleyards Newmarket Saleyards, highlighting the laneway running between the stock pens showing detail of bluestone pitches and post and rail fencing.
Image: Robert Cutting
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Cars, trucks and trams thunder along Flemington Road these days and but there was a time when the roads were full of traffic of a different kind. For decades, thousands of head of cattle were driven along here ‘on the hoof’ by working dogs and drovers, many from as far away as Queensland. In the late 1800s Newmarket was on the city fringe, but as Melbourne expanded, the chaos, sounds and smells of rural life collided with the city. Increasingly, trucks and rail were used to transport livestock during the 20th century and a stock overpass, built in the 1960s, reduced the risk of escapes. There are plenty of stories of stray cattle trampling through local houses, turning up at the pub, the milk bar, and even the Zoo. After the auction, drovers ran livestock to nearby abattoirs or to be transported to the paddocks of their new owners.

  A yardman directing cattle at Newmarket Saleyards A yardman directing cattle at Newmarket Saleyards, 1960.
Image: Laurie Richards Studio
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The vast Newmarket Saleyards were the most important in Australia, setting the price for livestock nationwide. It became a ‘town within a town’ with its own essential services, including a telegraph office, cricket club, newspaper and radio station. Record numbers of animals were sold here during World War II.

Covered walkways between the stock pens at the Newmarket Saleyards Covered walkways between the stock pens at the Newmarket Saleyards where auctioneers stood and conducted sales.
Image: Robert Cutting
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Regional stockyards led to the decline of Newmarket which finally closed in 1987. Museum Victoria acquired significant objects from Newmarket and volunteer Jackie Gatt has been working with curator Liza Dale-Hallett to document the collection, which is featured on Collections Online this month.

You can still see bluestone paving, stock pens, covered walkways and brick buildings on the site, but new housing occupies much of the original 57 acres. Every year since its closure, drovers, agents and auctioneers who worked at Newmarket hold a reunion on the third Saturday of February each year to catch up with old friends. This year there will also be a community celebration day on Sunday 20 February, 11am-2pm, to honour the 150th anniversary.

Bill Glenn mosaic Detail of the Newmarket Saleyard mosaics, featuring Bill Glenn, a drover at the Newmarket Saleyards, and his cattle dog.
Image: mural artist Elizabeth McKinnon, photographer Robert Cutting
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Newmarket Collection on Collections Online

Brochure about Newmarket Collection (PDF, 2Mb)

ABC Landline: Saleyard of the Century

Poster for Community Day on 20 February (PDF, 6.2Mb)

Developing a dino exhibit

Author
by Ben
Publish date
15 February 2011
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Comments (3)

Ben designs exhibitions at Scienceworks, Melbourne Museum and the Immigration Museum. He has previously worked designing sets for theatre, and running workshops for kids. Ben loves surprises and performing silly dances.

Over the next couple of months I’ll be working on the new animatronic dinosaur exhibition at Scienceworks called Explore-a-saurus. The dinos we’ve been given by Questacon are in need of a bit of a repair, repaint, and re-interpretation. We decided we needed to supplement the existing dinosaurs with new exhibits to present more scientifically-based themes and a more contemporary approach to palaeontology. No more daggy cargo pants and pith helmets for our paleos!

Our first step was to look at interesting overarching themes to base our interpretation on. They needed to respond to current research since paleontologists regularly make new discoveries that overturn previous understanding. They must be engaging for kids, put kids in the shoes of palaeontologists and demonstrate scientific practice. One element I am particularly interested in is the idea of absolute knowledge. The evidence is open to interpretation, and thus, our knowledge about dinosaurs changes due to new research on old material and discovery of new fossils.

Old dinosaur evolution chart An example of how our understanding of dinosaurs evolution has changed: this old chart in the MV collection suggests the dinosaur branch of the evolutionary tree was a dead end, but current research suggests some dinosaurs evolved into birds.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We decided the most interesting angle would be forensic palaeontology – a kind of CSI Cretaceous. We’re using the phrase ‘how we know what we know’ as the exhibition focus. Our interactives will use evidence-based research to demonstrate particular theories, and, if possible, show the palaeontologist’s methods,

With this in mind we turned to popular dinosaur culture – what do people want to know? What are the interesting facts which we can debunk or expand upon? We started with the way dinosaurs are portrayed in films and TV because this is the most prevalent form of education for kids! We looked at the way dinosaurs moved, how we know the sounds they made, the colour of their skin, whether they evolved to become birds or reptiles; and how well they could see. We came up with a 'how we know what we know' list and then another list of types of exhibit that we know Scienceworks visitors have liked in the past.

The interactive elements of the exhibition are now in the final stages of design before we move on to the manufacturing side, then comes the exhibition installation! Before you know it, it will be June 1, when Explore-a-saurus will open and visitors can come and try the interactive components for themselves.

Links:

Explore-a-saurus

MV Blog: Open wide! 

Project Seasons

Author
by Tanya
Publish date
14 February 2011
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As our visitors relax under the Planetarium’s stars, what many of them don’t know is that just next door it’s a hub of activity. We’re busy working on a brand new fulldome planetarium show that will be launched later this year.

The question we’re exploring? What would happen if you accidentally messed up the seasons? That's what our characters, Anni and Max, have just done  – they’ve made it snow in the middle of summer!

storyboard from seasons show Our storyboard of snow inside Anni's bedroom in summer!
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We've taken our script and mapped it out in storyboard form. The storyboard has a strange shape to capture the Planetarium's unique fulldome format.

You see we don’t use a normal rectangular screen but a 180-degree dome above our heads. It's the perfect way for showing a starry night sky and it also puts you in the centre of the action.

But behind the scenes, it means we must work with circular images – where the bottom is the front, the top is the back, (left is left, right is right) and the centre is what you see directly overhead.

Anna's Room - Spinning Out A scene from Spinning Out, a show we made on the seasons many years ago.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Can you imagine how the room above would look if it was projected onto a dome?

This new show we are working on will be our 14th production since the Melbourne Planetarium opened here at Scienceworks in 1999. It’s also our 4th production made in fulldome (the official name for this circular format).

Follow us on the blog as we give you some sneak-peaks of the show and its characters, Anni and Max, taking shape!

Married to the Job vodcast

Author
by Dr Andi
Publish date
10 February 2011
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Comments (5)

Today we launch our new vodcast series, Married to the Job, where we chat to museum staff. In the tradition of museum object and specimen collecting, we ask them to tell us about themselves and their work by showing us something old, new, borrowed and blue.

So let’s meet John Retallick, Public Programs Officer here at Museum Victoria.

Watch this video with a transcript

Authentico Leggos

Author
by Jo
Publish date
8 February 2011
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Comments (3)

Jo is one of the friendly staff at MV's Discovery Centres. Despite protestations that she does not blog, she couldn't resist writing about this recent coincidence...

Weekends in the Immigration Discovery Centre are normally filled with lots of folks looking for their names, or the names of ancestors, on the various websites we can easily access. But this weekend proved a little more interesting...

I was helping a lady who was here on holidays from Florida find some information about her long-lost ancestors whom she believed arrived at Melbourne in the 1870s. This in itself is not out of the ordinary, but the woman’s maiden name was: it was Leggo. She had heard that her ancestors had come to Australia and started a food business. I asked her if she had made it into a supermarket yet and wandered down the pasta aisle, since their little food business was considerably bigger than she realised. (Leggo's is now a major brand of pasta and sauces. According to the company history on the Leggo's website, Henry Leggo began selling his mother's bottled sauces and pickles to Bendigo goldminers in the 1880s).

While she and I were chatting about this, another woman came up to the desk and excused herself for interrupting. She asked if we were talking about the the name Leggo, because that that was her name, too – and yes, it was spelt the same. She was on holidays from Cornwall in the United Kingdom. The two women exchanged the details of their respective family history as they each knew it and it seems that they are distantly related. They have since exchanged email addresses and will say in contact when they return home to Florida and Cornwall.

Elizabeth and Joyce Joyce Taylor (left) and Elizabeth Leggo in the Immigration Discovery Centre.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Immigration Discovery Centre

Researching Italian Migration

CSIRAC display in California

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
3 February 2011
Comments
Comments (0)

In 2008, senior curator David Demant gave a talk about CSIRAC at the Computer History Museum in California's Silicon Valley. CSIRAC is the only surviving first-generation computer in the world, and is a key item in MV's Information and Communication Collection.

Following David's visit, two CSIRAC items were borrowed by the Computer History Museum for their new exhibition Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing. The objects - a replica paper tape that holds a CSIRAC program and an amplifier from CSIRAC's memory - feature in a section called 'The Birth of the Computer' beside the 1953 computer JOHNIAC.

Display case containting CSIRAC amplifier and paper tape Display case containing CSIRAC amplifier and paper tape at the Computer History Museum.
Source: Computer History Museum
 

JOHNIAC display JOHNIAC on display in the exhibition Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing.
Source: Computer History Museum
 

It's great to see an Australian-built computer - and the fourth computer ever built - represented in this important timeline of computing history.

Links:

CSIRAC: Australia's First Computer

What's On: CSIRAC

Computer History Museum

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

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