Episode 17 – Home of the rare and famous

October 1, 2009 15:08 by andi

If I said we were going to visit old relics, valuable treasures and strange creatures, you might think we were going into the museum’s collection store. But no, we’re venturing into another restricted place: the rare books section of Museum Victoria’s library, where even staff need special permission for access.

The rare books section contains rare resources and famous books accumulated by the museum over the past 150 years. The illustrations in the rare books are a visual treat, but the stories behind the books, as told by library staff, are just as vivid. We meet the diligent librarian who found a forgotten rare and famous book during a spring clean, and hear tales of printing presses working in the freezing Antarctic.

Thanks for visiting this page that one day will be an archive,
Dr Andi

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Dr Ely Wallis among the rare books |  Bizarre inhabitants of Seba's cabinet of curiosities  |  Ely shows the museum's copy of Aurora Australis | Val Hogan with her fishy find.  Photos: Andi Horvath Dr Ely Wallis among the rare books | Bizarre inhabitants of Seba's cabinet of curiosities | Ely shows the museum's copy of Aurora Australis | Val Hogan with her fishy find. Photos: Andi Horvath

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Episode 16 – Be My Guest: A Day in Pompeii

August 3, 2009 13:23 by andi

We humans have been posting our comments around the place for centuries. Mobile phones and Twitter may be the tools we use today, but back in 79 AD, the Romans recorded their opinions about life as graffiti on the walls of their cities.

We know this because aspects of Roman life in Pompeii were preserved in the many metres of volcanic ash from the eruption of Mt Vesuvius. The evidence remains even after centuries of looting and unauthorised excavations.

Over 200 artefacts are on loan to Museum Victoria for this very special Melbourne Museum exhibition, A Day in Pompeii. It was opened by the Minster for the Arts and I really wanted to take a picture of her next to the statue of Minerva, the Roman Goddess of the Arts, but didn't get a chance.

Gladiatorial-ly and curatorial-ly yours, Dr Andi

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Roman Gods. Photo: Andi Horvath | Garden Fresco House of the Golden bracelet. Source: © William Starling, Alabama, USA. | Gladiator's helmet. Source: Alfredo and Pio Foglia. Roman Gods. Photo: Andi Horvath | Garden Fresco House of the Golden bracelet. Source: © William Starling, Alabama, USA. | Gladiator's helmet. Source: Alfredo and Pio Foglia.

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Episode 15 – Be My Guest: Star Wars

June 26, 2009 15:46 by andi

Be my guest as we gatecrash another special exhibition event, this time at Scienceworks. A long, long time ago (in 2005) in a Museum of Science far, far away (in Boston) some exhibition people got together with a crowd from LucasFilm Ltd and joined forces to create an exhibition called Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination. It’s designed to ignite interest in science and technology and interestingly one of the scientists interviewed in the exhibition mentions that Star Wars inspired her to study robotics!

May the fourth is international Star Wars Day, but every day is Star Wars Day at Scienceworks for the next 5 months while this travelling exhibition is in Melbourne. So go forth with the force that is science and imagination.

Electrostatically yours, Dr Andi

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star-wars.jpg C-3PO is enjoying being adjusted for display. Photo: David Collopy | Storm troopers and clone trooper welcoming patrons to the preview night Source: David Loram D.D.L. Photographics Pty Ltd. | Nick Crotty with an R2D2 version of Mr Potato head and Robbie a robot who features in the Scienceworks collection store tour. Source: Dr Andi

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Episode 14 – Exposure to the Elements

June 10, 2009 14:46 by andi

Have you seen Wolfram|Alpha? It’s not an internet search engine, even though it seems like one, but rather a computational knowledge engine. You ask it a question, and it actually computes the answer. Seems the perfect way to double-check if the meaning of life is really 42, like Douglas Adams wrote in A Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.

However, it occurred to me that the answer should actually be 94 not 42. Here is my theory. Things that have meaning …matter, all life is made up of …matter, therefore the meaning of life is …matter! Since there are 94 types of matter naturally found on Earth, the number 94 must be the secret to ‘Life, the Universe and Everything’ and the periodic table of the elements must be the map!

Nobelium-ly yours, Dr Andi

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dinosaur.jpgLauren Bartlett (also known as Lawrencium to her brother) with her lithium battery collection. Photo Andi Horvath | Drink with the table. Photo www.campusgifts.co.uk | Dan Robertson has time for Caesium. Photo Andi Horvath

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Episode 13 - Be My Guest: Dinosaur Walk & Talk

May 14, 2009 13:42 by andi

Be my guest is a new series of podcast adventures that gatecrash Museum Victoria exhibition openings. Forget trying to get onto the VIP invite list, just sneak in with me and we’ll munch finger food with the A-list guests, pop a cork with curators and ask the critics what they think of the exhibition.

In this episode we find out what a teenage Mongolian Tarbosaurus has to say about the world, eavesdrop on an Amargasaurus on its mobile phone and take a joy ride on a flying Quetzalcoatlus. Yep, we will be chatting with fossils, walking with dinosaurs and dancing with ancient wolves.

Be my guest, Dr Andi

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dinosaur.jpg Toy dinosaurs walking off the shelf at the shop. Photo Andi Horvath | Kate Phillips, Senior Curator holding fossilised dinosaur poo, or coprolite. Photo Rodney Start | Tarbosaurus bataar greets visitors at the start of the exhibition. Photo Andi Horvath




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Episode 12 - McCoy's specimens: zoological illustrations of Victoria

April 7, 2009 16:22 by andi

Superb 19th century zoological illustrations of natural history specimens are a visual delight and it may seem like an odd topic for a podcast as it take us to the limits of the audio medium.  At Access all Areas we aren’t scared to go there, trust me when you hear the stories and dramas behind these 19th century pictures you’ll never look at these zoological illustrations the same way again. The best thing about the audio medium is that it captures, not only the telling of the ‘1000 words behind every picture’, but the passion that people have about their museum work.I hope this podcast paints a world of wonder for you.

Yours in sound and vision, Dr Andi

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Fredrick McCoy | John Kean and Bec Carland | Unpublished Drawing Number 209 of a Tasmanian Blenny Parablennius tasmanianus, pencil, watercolour and ink on paper by lithographer Arthur Bartholomew 1861Fredrick McCoy | John Kean and Bec Carland | Unpublished Drawing Number 209 of a Tasmanian Blenny Parablennius tasmanianus, pencil, watercolour and ink on paper by lithographer Arthur Bartholomew 1861

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Episode 11 - It's International Year of Astronomy

March 18, 2009 15:20 by andi

I am always delighted to discover that it’s International Year of <insert cultural topic or natural feature here>. There have been some great ones in the past like the International Polar Year 2007-08, the International Year of the Potato 2008, the International Year of Volunteers 2001.I can remember the International Year of Disabled Persons in 1981which started a new awareness of access to public buildings which today is now mainstream design.  International years of <whatever> often have ripple effects as they make us take notice of our world.
In this episode I hang around the Melbourne Planetarium at Scienceworks for a day asking staff about their favourite celestial bodies, what visitors thought about the planetarium shows and playing with the acoustics of the dome theatre in between shows.

When I asked Trish, an education officer, about her favourite celestial body she said, ‘My favourite celestial body has to be the Moon. I see it as a bit of a reality check because we can get busy with things that are happening in our lives but when we look up and see the Moon we remember we that we are on this amazing spherical earth and there is this moon orbiting our earth. We are actually apart of huge universe full of lots of things like nebulas and black holes and stuff we don’t know about.’ 

So take extra time to marvel at our place in space this year and catch a planetarium show at a museum near you.

Cosmic waves, Dr Andi

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Source: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. The Galileo spacecraft took these images of the Moon on 7 December 1992 on its way to explore the Jupiter system in 1995-97 | Melbourne planetarium visitors | Animation of a black hole from a planetarium show Source: Courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech. The Galileo spacecraft took this image of the Moon on 7 December 1992 on its way to explore the Jupiter system in 1995-97 | Melbourne planetarium visitors | Animation of a black hole from a planetarium show

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Episode 10 - Evolution: The Seafood Diet

February 20, 2009 15:19 by andi

I’ve been attending the ‘Evolution, the experience: past, present, future’ conference here in Melbourne, and scientists have been asked to speculate about what life on earth will be like when we celebrate Darwin’s 300th birthday in a hundred years time.

David Karoly, scientist and commentator on climate change, suggested we may lose a third of the present species on earth and it is possible that prawns and shellfish will only be available from farming operations. Their disappearance from the sea can be predicted from the complex interchange of events surrounding pollution and climate change.  Sadly, over fishing and dredging in certain locations has already endangered certain species of fish and seafood well before the effects of any climate change.

We still have opportunities to save the demise of our seafood. In this episode, Mark Norman, Senior Curator of Molluscs, turns our attention to the ethics of the seafood diet and the real power of the ethically- informed consumer and restaurateur.  

Eat ethically, Cheers Dr Andi

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Maori Octopus Photographer: Mark Norman | Dr Mark Norman dissecting a giant squid | Orange Roughy Photographer: David Paul. These fish can live for over 140 years but overfishing has depleted many stocks

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Episode 9 - Evolution: Life on Earth in 7 courses

February 20, 2009 14:59 by andi

In this episode, you, the listener, will gate crash the gala event of the century: Darwin’s 200th birthday party at Melbourne Museum. It’s a spectacular celebration of the evolution of life on earth called Evolution – the dinner.

You’ll love the menu; we get to eat our way up the evolutionary tree course by course.  The menu starts at the Precambrian earth 4.5 billion years ago represented by arancini balls with crusty textures of proto earth over hot fillings. The early oceans of primeval soup 3.6 billion years ago will be superb servings of seafood bisque. The menu offering then moves to the Cambrian explosion of life on earth which saw the origins of molluscs and crustaceans like prawns and scallops. The era of bony fishes is a serving of salmon and caviar. The menu then celebrates life emerging on land with reptilian crocodile skewers.

You know that old chestnut of which came first, the chicken or the egg? We can answer that; life on, dry land was only possible due to emergence of the hard-shelled eggs which came well before the chicken! The dinosaur era course will remind us that the chicken drummettes we eat are identical to the pattern of bones found in Tyrannosaurus leg, only thankfully smaller.

Enjoy this edible version of access all areas pod cast adventures.

Watch out for chocolate meteorites,

Cheers, Dr Andi

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Brain Choo a palaeontologist about to submit his PhD thesis, Darwin impersonator Bernard Caleo, and Dr Andi Horvath | Darwin’s 200th birthday cake, Galapagos tortoise ornament made by Museum preparators | Chris Darwin (the great great grandson) and Dr John Long signing books for dinner guests

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Episode 8 - Charles Darwin: The Interview

January 5, 2009 16:05 by andi

2009 marks the 150th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s publication of On the Origin of Species: the book that made scientific sense of life on earth. It’s the sesquicentenary for the theory of evolution! (Advice: use the word sesquicentenary in print only because when said out loud one never sounds sober).

As well as being a behind-the-scenes tour guide for podcast enthusiasts, I develop exhibitions for Museum Victoria. I recently had the curatorial mission to create a showcase about the genius of Charles Darwin.

There were a series of complications. We had no Darwin-related objects in the Museum Victoria collection (the finch we have was already on display elsewhere); a microscope in the collection ascribed to Charles Darwin did not really belong to the evolutionary theorist, it was a fake, and the museum's stuffed chimpanzee was too fragile to display. Then we realised the foyer light levels were prohibitive to accessing loans from other museums and collectors … So we had to take a rather ‘creative’ (but not desperate) curatorial approach. The display which now stands in the Melbourne Museum foyer features an interview with Charles Darwin. Yes, an interview … No séances, no monkey business, just some academic research, curatorial interpretive power and a dash of wondrous imagination.

I have evolved a podcast version of the interview for you here.

Stay fit, Dr Andi

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An image of Darwin from a Museum Victoria lantern slide | The Melbourne Museum Darwin showcase | Charles Darwin (as played by Bernard Caleo)An image of Darwin from a Museum Victoria lantern slide | The Melbourne Museum Darwin showcase | Charles Darwin (as played by Bernard Caleo)

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