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DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Mar 2011 (17)

International Women's Day

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
8 March 2011
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Today is the 100th celebration of International Women's Day. In 1911, rallies in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland on 19 March turned the movement into an international phenomenon, with over one million protesters calling for women's right to vote and equality in the workplace. Now held each year on 8 March, International Women's Day celebrates women's achievements and encourages everyone to address inequalities between the sexes where they still persist.

It's also Women's History Month in March and the featured theme on Collections Online is the militant suffrage movement in Great Britain, exemplified by the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). The 'militant' behaviour of WSPU campaigners seems rather restrained compared with the modern-day definition of the term, but in the 1900s, accosting politicians and public demonstrations were decidedly unladylike and they used military language to describe their 'fight'.

The theme is illustrated with a wonderful object - a silver muffineer, or shaker for dispensing spices for the tops of cakes. The muffineer is in the form of a suffragette complete with a sandwich board.

Suffragette muffineer Suffragette muffineer made by Saunders & Shepherd, Silver, 1908 (HT 17185)
Image: Ben Healley
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Another Collections Online WSPU object is a medal awarded for valour to Myra Eleanor Sadd Brown, an activist and mother of four who was arrested in 1912 for breaking a window in a government office. Her hunger strike ended when she was force-fed in Holloway Prison. It is estimated that fewer than 100 of these medals were struck. It still has its ribbon with bands of green, white and purple, the offical colours of the women's suffrage movement. (You may see people wearing these colours today - I'm one of them!)

Suffragette medal Suffragette medal awarded to Myra Eleanor Sadd Brown, Great Britain, 1909, for her efforts in the militant Women's Social and Political Union. (NU 36216)
Image: Jennifer McNair
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Myra was one of around 1000 British women imprisoned for protesting for the right to vote, which finally came in 1918 for England women, 16 years after non-Aboriginal Australian women were allowed to vote in Commonwealth elections. Our neighbours in New Zealand did much better; women could vote from 1893, including Maori women, whereas Australian Aboriginal women were excluded until 1962 when Commonwealth voting rights were extended to Australia's Indigenous population.

How are you marking International Women's Day?

Links:

International Women's Day

Australian Women's History Forum

MV News: From Little Things

Seafood for dinner?

Author
by Blair
Publish date
7 March 2011
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This post is another in our special series during the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival.

Sometimes I wonder how we eat the seafood we do.

Take scallops, for example. With their plump and juicy meat, they are coveted for our dinner plates and in top restaurants around the world. But what are we really eating?

Well, there’s the shell, more for presentation than eating, characteristically circular with ridges radiating from a rectangular hinge that holds the animal protected inside.

Shells of edible scallops Shells of edible scallops, Pecten fumatus from 1970s Fisheries material.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

And there’s the body. Unlike oysters, they don’t sit tight and daintily nurture pearls. Instead, they focus on moving small distances by squirting jets of water from between their shell halves, building muscle mass inside equivalent to a bodybuilder’s bicep, all for our eating pleasure (and also to flap away from predators like octopuses and sea stars I guess).

Scallops for sale at Victoria Market Scallops for sale at the Queen Victoria Market. The white part is mostly muscle, while the orange part is known as 'roe'.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

And what is that orange-brown blobby bit that tastes so gelatinously good? Gonads. A factory that pumps out hundreds of eggs and sperm into the water with the hope that some don’t get eaten or swept away into unsuitable habitat.

But sitting on the bottom in sand or silty mud can attract parasitic friends like trematodes and nematodes. (I won’t go into how many fish parasites a scientist sees under a microscope or you may never eat sushi again.)

Is it revolting to eat the disgusting? I suspect not, so long as some chef goes about his or her masterful ways to clean and transform the disgusting into the delicious.

Oh and if you’re interested...

Scallops probably have the most eyes in the animal kingdom – they can have hundreds of eyes along the edge of their mantle. Exactly what sort of pictures they see we cannot be sure. Their shells reach about 14 cm in length and they live on shallow sandflats to waters over 100 metres deep. Their diet of floating food, such as plankton, is filtered from the water. Some species move short distances, others make more permanent homes on the reef, often becoming so encrusted with coral and sponge growth that they are barely recognisable. They were commercially harvested in Port Phillip Bay until 1996, nowadays they are taken from Bass Strait. Several species were thought to occur within the range of the common variety we eat, Pecten fumatus, but recent genetic work suggests they are all the same species.

Melbourne Food and Wine Festival

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
3 March 2011
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The annual Melbourne Food and Wine Festival starts tomorrow and MV is hosting events at Melbourne Museum, the Royal Exhibition Building and the Immigration Museum. It seemed the perfect time to ask the History and Technology curators to suggest some foodie collection items for a series of MFWF posts.

It's hard to imagine Melbourne's food scene without an Italian influence. The flush of Italian migrants that arrived here following World War II brought with them the foundations of the café culture so prevalent across Melbourne today. Some early cafés still survive; Don Camillo near Victoria Market, and Pellegrini's in Bourke St being two well-know examples. Many Italian migrants also started food manufacturing businesses to satisfy the appetites of the migrant population, and, increasingly, the wider community that embraced Italian cuisine. One of these businesses, La Tosca, was founded in 1947 and still produces pasta today.

'La Tosca' Ravioli label 'La Tosca' Ravioli label for labelling tins of food produced by La Tosca Food Processing Company in the 1970s.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Curator Moya McFadzean talks about the La Tosca roller in this video from The Melbourne Story website:

La Tosca tools and package labels are on display in The Melbourne Story exhibition, which is also the venue for Melbourne's Culinary Story. This festival event features special guest Charmaine O’Brien, author of Flavours of Melbourne, a Culinary Biography and Victorian wines and produce. If you mention MV Blog when booking you will get the MV Members discount  - call 13 11 02 for bookings.

Links:

Selling Pasta to Melbourne - the La Tosca story

Marvellous Melbourne: Café Culture

Borghesi Family Collection on Collections Online

Introducing Pendle Hall

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
2 March 2011
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Pendle Hall is an enormous, elaborate and intricate dolls’ house that Felicity Clemons built almost entirely by hand. It was donated to Museum Victoria through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program in 2010 and work has begun to ready it for eventual display at Melbourne Museum.

Beginning in the 1940s, Melbourne-born Felicity was inspired to create Pendle Hall after her daughter received a small dolls’ house as a gift. Ultimately, Pendle Hall reached 21 rooms of Georgian-style country splendour, complete with parquetry floors, working chandeliers, a fully-stocked larder, a resident family with servants and even a mouse beside a wheel of cheese.

Pendle Hall larder The shelves in Pendle Hall's larder are well-stocked. You can see the wheel of cheese and mouse in the middle of the the first shelf.
Image: Michelle Berry
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Janet Pathe has been steadily registering the individual pieces which number over 600 items. As chief unwrapper, she’s been the first to sight some of the amazing miniature items therein. “ I really like the little pack of cards but some of the pieces of furniture, like cabinets, are just absolutely amazing. All the little drawers and doors open.”

Cabinet from Pendle Hall A cabinet from Pendle Hall's Withdrawing Room. It's hard to believe this intricate piece is only 18 cm high. (HT 25753)
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Pendle Hall has been on display in Felicity Clemons’ private museum in Westbury, Tasmania for many years. To transport it from the Apple Isle, the dolls’ house was carefully photographed while assembled, then each item wrapped, labelled and boxed by a conservator. The reference photos will be critical to reassemble and manage all the little pieces, since, as Janet explains, “so much of it is too small, like the tiny candlesticks, for us to put registration numbers on them.”

Display board for Pendle Hall This board shows the tools and techniques Felicity Clemens used while constructing Pendle Hall.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

While Janet registers, conservator Sarah Babister is working through the house room by room. “At the moment I’m doing a conservation assessment on all 612 components, literally looking at every piece, and trying to determine what treatment, if any, needs to be carried out,” says Sarah. “To date most pieces I have examined only require basic surface cleaning, however there are some components which will need to be repaired or stabilised." In some cases she may consider replacing materials (such as a tiny foam mattress) with an inert material because she suspects the foam may be speeding up the deterioration of the bedspread on top.

Sarah with the Chinese Bedroom furniture Conservator Sarah is working through the furniture from the Chinese Bedroom of Pendle Hall.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Links:

ABC Radio National: interview with curator Michael Reason on ByDesign

Shake your family tree

Author
by Nicole D
Publish date
2 March 2011
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Comments (0)

On Friday 25 February Immigration Discovery Centre participated in the annual Shake Your Family Tree. Organised by the National Archives of Australia (NAA), this is a national event that brings together family history experts in one location for an entire day.

Along with six other institutions, including State Library of Victoria, Public Record Office of Victoria, and Genealogical Society of Victoria, we set up our stand in the foyer of the VAC in North Melbourne and helped many enthusiastic visitors with questions about doing their family history research.

Advising a visitor at Shake Your Family Tree. Advising a visitor at Shake Your Family Tree.
Image: Anna Koh
Source: National Archives of Australia
 

A number of seminars were presented on the day and I did a talk on Revealing objects & stories from Museum Victoria's Migration Collection. In this, I discussed the power of objects to tell a story and the way museums use them in their exhibitions, programs and online resources. As an example, I told the story of one particular migrant through the medium of some objects related to her life that are part of the Migration Collection. Lastly, I encouraged my audience to see if they could utilise any objects in their own homes to further enrich their family history research.

Nicole speaking on the MV Migration Collection. Nicole speaking on the MV Migration Collection.
Image: Anna Koh
Source: National Archives of Australia
 

Museum Victoria also participated in a Conservation Clinic, where members of the public could bring in their precious documents or objects for advice on how to protect and conserve them.

All in all it was a great day and we are already looking forward to next year!

 

Links:

Museum Victoria Migration Collection

SLV Family Matters blog: Shake Your Family Tree 2011 style

National Archives of Victoria

Public Record Office of Victoria

Genealogical Society of Victoria

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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