MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Jan 2011 (11)

Cleaning the creek

Author
by Colin
Publish date
14 January 2011
Comments
Comments (3)

If you have wandered into the Forest Gallery in the new year, you may have noticed that the creek looks much clearer. Just before Christmas 2010, Live Exhibits staff got together to clean ten years' worth of silt and sludge that had built up since the opening of the gallery. It was a tough and dirty job, but the end result was well worth it when the clean water was turned back on.

First we had to drain the creek.......

Forest Gallery creek being drained. The Forest Gallery creek drained of its water.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

...so we could remove all the rocks.....

Removing the creek rocks Removing the creek rocks.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

...and scoop out all the stinky mud!

Scooping out mud Scooping out ten years' worth of mud from the creek's base.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

With all of the rocks washed and returned...

Clean rocks in creek bed Squeaky-clean rocks back in position
Source: Museum Victoria
 

...we could fire up the pump...

Forest Gallery pump The pump that circulates water through the Forest Gallery
Source: Museum Victoria
 

...and let the water flow. C'est fini!

Clean Forest Gallery creek. Sparkling, crystal-clear Forest Gallery creek.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

Forest Secrets

Behind the scenes

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
13 January 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

Have you seen the Science and Life television commercial

We hung around on set and learned all sorts of useful things - what fake blood is made from, how much blood is too much, and exactly what attacks Bernard the security guard at night in the gallery...

Open wide!

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
12 January 2011
Comments
Comments (1)

Dave Pickering and T. rex Dave Pickering checking out the teeth of Tyrannosaurus rex.
Image: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The crew at Scienceworks have just unpacked a shipment of animatronic dinosaurs from Questacon. They will be refurbished in our workshops before going on display in the exhibition Explore-a-saurus, which opens at Scienceworks on 1 June 2011. Palaeontology collection manager, David Pickering, was caught hamming it up in a photo shoot with the mighty models, but I don't think he'll get that close once they're switched on and come to life!

Among the dinosaurs are some of the superstars of the dino world - T. rex, Stegasaurus, Triceratops and others. They will be overhauled with some new animatronic technology and their appearance updated to reflect recent discoveries in palaeontology.

Triceratops in the Scienceworks collection store Eye to eye with Triceratops in the Scienceworks collection store.
Image: Benjamin Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Explore-a-saurus will have moving, roaring models on a grand scale. The exhibition will also show how paleontologists reconstruct dinosaurs - what they looked like, how they behaved and where they lived - from fossil evidence.

Links:

What's On listing for Explore-a-saurus 

Dinosaur Walk

MV News: How old was that dinosaur?

After hours at Melbourne Museum

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
11 January 2011
Comments
Comments (2)

What's this conservator doing?

Elizabeth holding a rope Elizabeth holding a rope...
Source: Museum Victoria
 

And this one?

 

Sam holding a rope Sam holding a rope...
Source: Museum Victoria
 

No, they're not flying giant kites in the Melbourne Museum foyer; they were carefully lowering our replica Duigan Biplane for cleaning last night.

  Lowering the Duigan Biplane Lowering the Duigan Biplane for cleaning.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

This kind of large-scale work takes place once museum visitors have left. It means that conservators can work some strange hours!

Duigan Biplane cleaning The dusty Duigan back on the ground ready for cleaning.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The biplane was back up near the ceiling this morning, and the floor was clear for the return of the Deliverette, which has been in storage while the special Titanic exhibition desk occupied its place in the foyer.

Deliverette van Special delivery! The Deliverette van returning from the collection store.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

It's great to see this unique little van back in the building. It is a prototype small delivery vehicle designed in the late 1940s at the aircraft factory at Fishermen's Bend. The start of the Korean War halted its production. What a shame - the Deliverette would have been perfect for Melbourne's narrow laneways. Perhaps it could have become an iconic Melbourne vehicle like our trams.

Links:

Centennary of the Duigan Biplane's first flight

Deliverette on Collections Online

What's that smell?

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
4 January 2011
Comments
Comments (6)

Every now and then, those of us who work at Melbourne Museum receive a polite but slightly troubling email:

"The Preparation Department needs to undertake work today that may generate some odours."

I can’t think of another workplace where stench warnings are a regular occurrence. They’re intriguing, too, because I always wonder what they’re doing down there in the basement.

Our skilled preparators do much as their name would suggest: they prepare things, from animal specimens for research collections to intricate models for display. Their job combines elements of biology, taxidermy, sculpture and painting and their work area is a den of creativity and practicality that is stocked with tools and equipment and art supplies.

In mid-December, a Gray’s Beaked Whale (Mesoplodon grayi) unfortunately was stranded at Portland and died. Given the rarity of this species, and MV’s strength in the study of whales, its skeleton is a valuable addition to our research collection. The preparators perform the somewhat gruesome but necessary task of cleaning the skeleton, and that’s where the odour comes in.

Gloves hanging in the Preparation Department The Preparation Department's collection of rubber gloves - essential tools in this line of work.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Preparator Steven Sparrey explained the facilities in which large specimens are prepared. The specimens are placed in a sequence of water baths in the ominously named ‘maceration tank’ which allows the animal’s soft tissues to loosen away naturally from the bones without damaging them. It’s not pretty and it doesn’t smell good. After this, the bones are given a soapy wash and dried thoroughly.

Preparation Department The sealed room that holds the maceration tank (at the back) and cleaning benches.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Some astonishingly large vertebrae from the backbone of a whale were on the drying racks. These were prepared for the Melbourne Aquarium from another stranded animal. The bones were quite yellow and Steven explained that the stains are from the whale’s oils, and they would be bleached by the sun once they were properly dry.

Whale vertebrae drying Whale vertebrae in the drying racks.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Shortly after that, he firmly suggested that we leave the area because the smell tends to cling to clothing. Needless to say, he doesn’t wear his work clothes home on the train. So there you have it – perhaps not one of the most glamourous jobs at the museum, but an essential task to maintain Victoria’s collection of our state's fauna.

Links:

Model-making for Dynamic Earth

Climate change and whale evolution

Fossil unlocks secrets to the origin of whales

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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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