MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS FROM: Sep 2010 (6)

Bushfire survivors

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by Kate C
Publish date
23 September 2010
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An article in the Age today shared the good news that the rare leafy liverwort Pedinophyllum monoicum survived the Black Saturday bushfire disaster in tiny remnants of Yarra Ranges rainforest. It was discovered through the Rainforest Recovery Project which is revisiting sites that were sampled prior to the fires.

This sort of work is critical to our understanding about how ecosystems recover - or don't - from bushfire. MV Curator of Hepetology, Jane Melville, received an Australian Research Council Linkage Grant in June this year to continue her work on the ecology, demography and genetics of frogs in the Kinglake region. A surprising number and diversity of frogs survived the February 2009 fires.

Toolangi frog field site This field site in Toolangi was badly affected by bushfire, yet yielded an adult frog previously caught in 2008. It is thought that frogs survived the fire by hiding in and around bodies of water like this dam.
Image: Bec Bray
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Frogs and liverworts share one characteristic that make them particularly important indicators: they are very sensitive to drying out. Neither would survive a direct fire front but  persist in unburnt pockets (or refugia) that offer protection. Long-term studies will monitor how the forests recover in coming years; since frogs are mobile, it is hoped that they will spread relatively quickly back into their former range. Rainforest plants generally aren't quite so responsive so we're very fortunate that this small, tender plant made it through the fires.

Links:

Type specimen of Pedinophyllum monoicum held at Te Papa Tongarewa

What is a liverwort? - Australian National Botanic Gardens

Wild about podcasts?

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
21 September 2010
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We were delighted to win an AVIA award for the Panoramic Navigators in Wild: amazing animals in a changing world. If you'd like to know more you can now head to Museum Times for a podcast interview with Tim Rolfe, Head of MV Studios.

The exhibition design team came up with the Panoramic Navigators as an ingenious alternative to traditional labels for the 770+ specimens on display. With the mounts all the way up the wall, labels would have been impossible to read. Sometimes necessity truly is the mother of invention!

Panoramic Navigators in Wild Visitors exploring the displays in Wild using the Panoramic Navigators
Image: Diana Snape
Source: Museum Victoria
 

You can also check out the Wild virtual exhibition without leaving your chair.

The crates have arrived!

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
14 September 2010
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In April the Racing Minister Rob Hulls put out a call to reunite Phar Lap's heart, skeleton and hide to mark the 150th anniversary of anniversary of the Melbourne Cup. His heart, which lives in Canberra at the National Museum, is too fragile to travel. However his skeleton, usually on display at Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, was sturdy enough to make the trip.

Now, after months of planning and packing, it's here! It arrived late last night in two custom-built crates.

Phar Lap's skeleton in the lift Phar Lap's skeleton being escorted up from the loading dock at Melbourne Museum.
Image: Karen Jakubec
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Of course, we can't be sure it's in there until the crates are opened tomorrow by AQIS, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. Until then the crates will sit quietly in the collection store. We can't wait to see his skeleton and hide displayed side by side on Thursday.

Phar Lap skeleton in crates The crates containing Phar Lap's skeleton awaiting quarantine inspection.
Image: Karen Jakubec
Source: Museum Victoria
 

If you want to know more about the skeleton, have a look at Te Papa's wonderful video about its preparation for travel:

 

Museum-inspired art

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
13 September 2010
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None of our venues could be called art museums although we collect and display artworks, such as childrens' paintings from the Victorian Bushfires Collection and the Indigenous sculptures of Menagerie. However we're always delighted when visitors interact with us creatively and some wonderful photos, drawings and other pieces of art are the result.

A few months ago the Melbourne Museum Discovery Centre hosted a visiting artist who sketched an African Wild Dog. Recently we received a message from an American artist, Sandy Rodriguez, who has been inspired by our local marine life to create a series of drawings and paintings. Lovely. 

The Striped Pyjama Squid is one of my favourites - a very cute, but very poisonous, little cephalopod.

Striped Pyjama Squid by Sandy Rodriguez Striped Pyjama Squid (Sepioloidea lineolata). Courtesy of the artist.
Image: Sandy Rodriguez
Source: Sandy Rodriguez
 

Have you ever sketched or photographed in the museum? We'd love to see your work!

Message Sticks round-up

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
8 September 2010
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The eleventh annual Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival finished its national tour at Melbourne Museum last night. It's the fourth year that we've hosted the festival and it finished with a brilliant documentary called Reel Injun about the portrayal of Native American Indians in films.

Trailer courtesy of Rezolution Pictures.

I was moved by the stories of kids growing up on Indian reservations watching cowboys and Indians films in church hall, cheering for the cowboys and not connecting the Indians on the screen with themselves. There moments that had the audience in stiches, too - snippets of non-Indian actors like Burt Reynolds sprayed in 'redface', or the first time anyone bothered to translate the words spoken in dialect by extras in films. Did you know that the headband was largely a Hollywood creation? According to the film, they weren't really worn by Indians; they were used by costume departments to keep the long black wigs on the heads of actors as they tumbled from horses!

Look out for the Message Sticks Indigenous Film Festival in venues around Australia in 2011.

Bike Share Scheme site 50

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
2 September 2010
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In late August, Melbourne Museum became the 50th docking site of the Melbourne Bike Share Scheme. There is now a flock of bright blue bikes parked on the plaza's west end near Rathdowne Street.

Site of Bike Share Scheme dock, Melbourne Museum Aerial view of the Bike Share Scheme docking spot on the Melbourne Museum plaza. The red rectangle indicates the exact site.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Demand for the bikes is expected from Carlton residents and tourists visiting the museum and we'll watch with interest to see how they're being used.

Coincidentally the docking station was installed within a week of the launch of our staff bike fleet. It's great to see the rise of bicycles as shared public transport, especially here in Melbourne where the bike paths are good and getting better.   

Have you used a blue Bike Share Scheme bike to visit the 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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