MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Mar 2012 (19)

Historypin channel

Author
by Ely Wallis
Publish date
29 March 2012
Comments
Comments (1)
Ely is responsible for publishing information about the museum’s collections online – on our own website and on websites run by others. Originally trained as a zoologist, she dropped into the relatively new field of museum informatics several years ago and has never looked back.

We're excited to announce the launch of Museum Victoria's channel on Historypin, joining other museums, historical societies, libraries, galleries, archives and individuals all sharing historic photographs online.

Screenshot of Museum Victoria's Historypin channel. Screenshot of Museum Victoria's Historypin channel.
Source: Museum Victoria / Historypin
 

Participants 'pin' their images to a place on a map and a point in time, and can record their stories about the photos. In doing so, the community creates together a rich resource for exploring history through space and time. To learn more about Historypin, watch this video, A Short Introduction to Historypin.

 

We have initially put up 500 images from the Biggest Family Album in Australia collection. There are fascinating images, from hailstones the size of tennis balls that fell in Charlton in 1914, to boys on tricycles in Corobimilla at Christmas in 1925. And all the photographs we've put on Historypin have a link back to our Collections Online site, so visitors can find out more about them.

In another part of the Historypin website, we have also included four images of Queen Elizabeth's visit to Melbourne in 1954. Pinning the Queen's History celebrates Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee in 2012 with photographs taken throughout her long reign. Queen Elizabeth attended a State Reception at the Exhibition Buildings during her extensive 1954 tour of Commonwealth countries. You can follow her trip through the photograph archive, and even track the hats and outfits she wore right around the world!

More images will go up as we continue to generate latitudes and longitudes for the places photographed. We are excited to be a part of this rich new resource.

Bugs for Brunch

Author
by Adrienne Leith
Publish date
28 March 2012
Comments
Comments (4)

Adrienne creates and presents public programs at Melbourne Museum.

What do you eat when you are having bugs for brunch?

Well, scorpions for starters, followed by BBQ-flavoured mealworms. Or perhaps you prefer your mealworms simply roasted with a dipping sauce? And would you like crunchy crickets with that?

A plate of roasted mealworms and crickets. A plate of roasted mealworms and crickets.
Image: Tom Pietkiewicz
Source: Umkafoto
 

More than 3,000 ethnic groups in 113 countries eat insects and other invertebrates, and in many places they are preferred over beef, pork and lamb. Producing insects generates fewer greenhouse emissions than for other forms of meat production and you get more for the same effort: less feed produces more protein. This means a high-protein and low-fat food source that leaves a smaller environmental footprint. While eating insects makes environmental sense, it's pretty confronting to many of us.

Developed as a children's program for the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, the Bugs for Brunch events ran over four days and tickets sold out fast. Surprisingly, there were just as many young adults as children (with their parents) who came along learn about – and taste - edible bugs. They wanted to do something different, something fun, something with their friends and family. But were they ready to eat bugs?

Most declared they were slightly squeamish and only a few had ever eaten a bug. After being shown how many bugs are already in our food, they were even more grossed out.

But with tastes of bug vomit (delicious honeycomb from Mount Dandenong) to sweeten them up, and up close and personal viewings of all kinds of edible bugs from Bogong Moths and bardy grubs to scorpions, grasshoppers and Chilean Rose tarantulas (Grammostola rosea), people's opinions shifted.

Woman holding beetle grub A bardy grub (beetle larva) at Bugs for Brunch.
Image: Tom Pietkiewicz
Source: Umkafoto
 

After seeing lots of images of people eating bugs, looking through bug recipe books and watching a Pad Thai being made with mealworms, they were ready to eat! Lollypops with bugs in them and mealworm chocolate chip cookies gave them a soft approach to the "whole bug in mouth" experience. But by the end, those roasted toasted whole bug snacks were being scoffed. They couldn't get enough and every plate was empty by the end.

Pad Thai with mealworms. Pad Thai with mealworms.
Image: Tom Pietkiewicz
Source: Umkafoto
 

The Bugs for Brunch program was developed and delivered by Patrick Honan and Rowena Flynn from the museum's Live Exhibits team and Adrienne Leith from Education and Community Programs. The insects at the Bugs for Brunch event came from one of the country's few consumable insect producers and were bred under hygienic conditions that comply with Australian Food Standards.

Links:

Edible Forest Insects, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Collecting mammal specimens

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
27 March 2012
Comments
Comments (0)

In their previous video, Dr Karen Rowe and Dr Karen Roberts reported the results of their mammal surveys of Wilsons Prom. They joined other MV scientists and Parks Victoria staff for the the rapid biodiversity survey, Prom Bioscan, of October 2011.

In this video, Karen and Karen talk about their work with the Mammology Collection at Museum Victoria and why the museum collects mammal specimens.

 

Watch this video with a transcript

Links:

View all Prom Bioscan blog posts

MV Animal Ethics Procedures

Mammalogy Collection

Caroline Chisholm's scrapbook

Author
by Max
Publish date
25 March 2012
Comments
Comments (1)

Your Question: What did Caroline Chisholm do behind the Shelter Shed?

A bit of scrapbooking apparently...

Having such a large online presence, as Museum Victoria has, we in the Discovery Centre are always asked if we can provide copies of the brochures, passenger lists, workshop manuals, etc, that feature in our massive Internet Empire. In order to satisfy this demand, we have to apply subtle pressure on a variety of curators, collection managers and photographers, in order to have these articles scanned.

Caroline Chisholm's scrapbook A page from Caroline Chisholm's scrapbook.
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria
 

However, in the case of Caroline Chisholm’s scrapbook, we can casually point out to the inquisitive enquirer, that by scrolling down the webpage, they will see the heading ‘Downloads’ followed by ‘Caroline Chisholm’s Scrapbook PDF 129.3 Mb’. Eureka! This unique piece of Australia’s history can be all yours at the click of a button. Now, at your leisure, you can peruse the pages of Caroline’s life and works.

Caroline Chisholm scrapbook, circa 1844-1861 Caroline Chisholm scrapbook, circa 1844-1861
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Who attended the ‘Soiree to Mrs. Chisholm’? Prince Albert did, that’s who. As did ‘The Ladies who have honoured us with their company’. Is one of your ancestors on ‘Mrs. Chisholm’s List of Missing Friends’? Margaret Lyons was looking for her brother Luck Lyons; Mrs. Tipple couldn’t find her husband Thomas Tipple and Mr. Wright could not be found which left his ‘Wife in great distress with six children’. And what did Charles Dickens say about Mrs. Chisholm? The answer can be found on ‘page 12’.

Caroline Chisholm scrapbook, circa 1844-1861 Caroline Chisholm scrapbook, circa 1844-1861
Image: Museum Victoria
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Caroline Chisholm’s scrapbook is not the only scanned item available for download on our website, but it is a particular favourite of mine. Thanks to the unsung heroes of the museum – the MV Studios folk who scan these wonderful items, all your questions can now be answered. We salute you!

UPDATE!  The Caroline Chisholm Scrapbook has been digitised and is now fully accessible online and can be seen here!

Got a question? Ask us!

Links 

Caroline Chisolm's scrapbook

Australian Dictionary of Biography Online

Gilgamesh the first superhero

Author
by Bernard
Publish date
22 March 2012
Comments
Comments (11)

Bernard works part-time at Melbourne Museum devising and delivering presentations for visitors. The other part of the time he writes and draws and edits and publishes comic books, and also teaches and broadcasts about them.

Gilgamesh. What a guy. 

In The Epic of Gilgamesh, we learn that he's the son of a human man and the goddess Ninsun.

Gilgamesh and Lamassu in the Louvre A hero overpowering a lion (left) and Lamassu in the Louvre. These bas-relief sculpures are huge - the man figure is about three times life-size. Lion-taming spirits are often identified with Gilgamesh.
Image: caribb
Source: Used under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 from caribb.

He's two-thirds god and one-third human, and single-handedly built the city walls of Uruk to protect his people.

Gilgamesh statue Cast bronze sculpture of Gilgamesh at The University of Sydney. It was made by Lewis Batros and donated by the Gilgamesh Cultural Centre on behalf of the Assyrian community celebrating the university's sesquicentenary in 2000.
Image: D. Gordon E. Robertson
Source: Wikimedia Commons
 

He fought and befriended the wild man Enkidu. Enkidu and Gilgamesh fought the monster Humbaba (or Huwawa). They defeated Humbaba and brought his head back to Uruk on a raft.

Clay mask of the demon Huwawa or Humbaba. Clay mask of the demon Huwawa or Humbaba. The cuneiform inscription on the back says that if the intestines of a sacrificed animal are looped around to resemble Humbaba, it is an omen of 'revelation.' Gruesome.
Source: © The Trustees of the British Museum
 

Gilgamesh and Enkidu also defeated the Bull of Heaven, who was sent to destroy Uruk by the furious goddess Ishtar after Gilgmesh said that he wouldn't go to the prom with her.

Queen of the Night relief The 'Queen of the Night' Relief, possibly a representation of the goddess Ishtar. It might also be her sister and rival, the goddess Ereshkigal, or the demoness Lilitu, known in the Bible as Lilith. Old Babylonian, 1800-1750 BC, from southern Iraq.
Source: © The Trustees of the British Museum
 

Sure, Gilgamesh is the legendary demigod hero-king of Mesopotamia, but is he actually the first comic book superhero? Of course he is. There were definitely legendary heroes and gods before Gilgamesh, but he's the first one we have a publication for. That publication weighs a little more than your standard comic book, because it's made of tablets of baked clay. But there are 12 of those tablets, each telling of a separate episode, so each could be considered an 'issue' of the Gilgamesh comic mini-series.

The one possible argument against it being a comic book is its total and utter lack of pictures. However, this objection is easily overcome by holding the tablets of cuneiform up against the large narrative Mesopotamian wall-carvings. The tablets thus become word balloons, containing a tale that the characters on the carvings are telling to one another. THEN it's a comic book. A weighty comic book. It might even, given the scope of the story, be a 'graphic novel' (=long comic book). Ooh la la!

Three thousand years after that original clay publication of the adventures of Gilgamesh, the brilliant Jack Kirby, 'King of Comics', who virtually invented the visual language that we associate with American superhero comics, put the Babylonian demigod on paper. BK (Before Kirby), comic books used the restrained compositions and drawing styles that they had inherited from newspaper comic strips. Kirby changed all that. His characters burst through the frames. They leapt from the page.

Bernard reading comic book Me ensconced in the classic Jack Kirby comic book series The Eternals, which features his character Gilgamesh.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Gilgamesh shows up in issue #13 of The Eternals (1977), a comic book series that Kirby created for Marvel Comics. In the intervening years, the character has been drawn and written by various writers and artists. Sometimes he's working under a different name (simply 'Hero' or 'The Forgotten One'), sometimes he's costumed in the hide of the Bull of Heaven, and sometimes he's fighting alongside the team called The Avengers, but I'm pretty sure he won't have a cameo in the film of the same name directed by Joss Whedon (the Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator) coming from Marvel Studios later this year. More's the pity, eh?

SmartBar round-up

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
20 March 2012
Comments
Comments (3)

On Thursday 1 March, hundreds of people gathered outside Melbourne Museum from 5pm, apparently as curious as we were to see what would happen at the adults-only SmartBar event.

Crowd at SmartBar at Melbourne Museum Crowd waiting outside Melbourne Museum for SmartBar to open.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The idea of adults-only museum events is not a new one, but it's new to Museum Victoria. All over the world, history and science museums like us witness the same pattern: young people in their twenties don't visit much. Many museums have started holding special events to cater for the interests of this group. The Australian Museum launched their Jurassic Lounge three summers ago and it's a hit in Sydney. Closer to home, NGV and ACMI have launched successful adult programs, but would such a thing work for us?

Mark Norman with a female argonaut Mark Norman talking about strange sex in the deep blue sea. Here he shows the SmartBar crowd a female argonaut or paper nautilus.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

David Perkins works in the museum's Public Programs department and helped organise SmartBar. "The whole point was to find if people were interested in coming to this type of event," says David, "And they were, more so that we ever expected." Online tickets sold out days in advance and people waited patiently to grab the last remaining door tickets. Over 1,000 people attended SmartBar and we were delighted that 83% of the audience were between 18 and 34 years old.

Erich Fitzgerald talking to the SmartBar crowd Erich Fitzgerald addressing the age-old question: just how accurate was Jurassic Park?
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria
 

"The presentations were the most popular thing," says David. The talks covered the bizarre sex lives of deep-water animals, spotlights on specimens and chats with preparators, curators and animal keepers. They all had a blast giving visitors direct access to the museum's research activity and to talk about their work. The Science and Life Galleries became a social space and all kinds of enthusiasts came out of the woodwork, many of them commenting that they liked being in the museum with no kids around.

Crowd at SmartBar at Melbourne Museum Bird's eye view of the crowd watching Wayne's demonstration in the Science and Life Gallery.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

The phenomenal success of SmartBar is encouraging and the museum is exploring how we can hold it regularly. Because we weren't sure what to expect, there were a lot of surprises – mostly good, but there were some aspects that we didn't get right. The queues at the door were too long and it was difficult to get the sound right in the Science and Life Gallery with so much going on. A survey, a comment board and feedback on Twitter, provides us with lots of information about what to improve next time, and what was spot-on. We'd like to thank everyone who gave us feedback as it will help us get things right in the future. At this stage we are planning to have four a year to follow the seasons – so watch out for our winter SmartBar.

Nearly a quarter of the attendees had never been to Melbourne Museum before. What was it about this event that attracted them? And what has stopped them in the past? David thinks the focus was just right for this crowd. "Adult education is a dirty phrase. If you asked a bunch of people to sit in a class after work, it would be a hard sell. But if it's easy and casual you can take it at your own pace. You have a nice night and you've learned something."

Links:

Comments from the pinboard on Pinterest

SmartBar photos on Melbourne Museum's Facebook page

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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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