MV Blog

DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: the melbourne story (3)

Desperately Seeking Graham

by Nick Crotty
Publish date
19 January 2015
Comments (2)

Nick is a Collections Manager at Scienceworks. He likes piña coladas, walks in the rain, Star Wars and hiding away from the light.

This radio recently came off display in The Melbourne Story. I was returning it to storage when I noticed that a conservator had bagged a small piece of paper while cleaning the radio in 2008, and had suggested that it be kept with the object. 

Radio from 1933 Broadcast Receiver (radio) made by Astor. This is the Mickey Mouse, model circa 1933 (ST 028290).
Image: Nick Crotty
Source: Museum Victoria

This torn slip of paper was not originally part of the radio, but tightly rolled and inserted inside a small hole on the side.

Side of old radio The side of the radio showing the hole with a piece of paper rolled inside.
Image: Rebecca Dallwitz
Source: Museum Victoria

On one side of the paper was typed 'TAKE A PAIR OF SPARKLING EYE...' (the paper was torn here), and on the other, was beautifully handwritten in pen 'I put on the paper “Do you like Graham” and she said “Of course I do”!!!'

Detail of hand-written note The two sides of the note found inside the radio.
Image: Nick Crotty
Source: Museum Victoria

Well, this is interesting! Immediately I started wondering; who wrote the note? And why did they place it inside the radio? Were they trying to hide it, or save it for reading later? Or were they just using it to stop excess noise coming out of the radio (or bugs getting in?!). 

Who is the 'she'? Who was 'Graham'? His name was written with the H underlined three times. Was there another Graeme without an H? What made Graham special? Did it refer to Graham Kennedy? He was on the radio in the early 1950s and on In Melbourne Tonight from 1957 to 1970.

Graham Kennedy A signed photo of Melbourne television personality Graham Kennedy in 1957, sitting on the set of his live variety program In Melbourne Tonight which was filmed at the studios of GTV Channel 9 in Richmond, Victoria.
Image: Athol Shmith
Source: Museum Victoria

Was there meaning behind the typed piece of paper? A quick google search of the words brought up a Gilbert & Sullivan song called Take a Pair of Sparkling Eyes from the operetta The Gondoliers. It’s a song sung in Act 2 by Marco Palmieri, a Venetian Gondolier, and is described by one critic as 'the most saccharine and chauvinistic ditty' of the Gilbert & Sullivan canon.

Two men in costume Rutland Barrington and Courtice Pounds as Marco and Giuseppe from the 1889 original production of The Gondoliers.
Source: The Gilbert and Sullivan Archive

Then I thought, was this a note passed in class? I wonder if school kids still do, or do they just text each other now? Of course this note was about another note ('I put on the paper'). Is this an old fashioned version of forwarding? Has anyone done anthropological research into the act of childhood note-passing during class?

I thought perhaps the source of this object might provide some clues. It was bought for the collection on 25 February 1972 from the Salvation Army Op Shop in Abbotsford, presumably by a curator. Our collection database says that during early January and February 1972, eight electronic valves were also purchased from the same shop.

Normally the museum acquires objects with a good provenance or story as that helps form exhibitions and captures the imagination of visitors. Sometimes, particularly in the Technology collections, we collect objects because of the part they played in technological development, especially if they are in good condition. The famous Astor Mickey Mouse was the biggest-selling radio in Australia during the 1930s.

Unfortunately I have reached a dead end. It might just be one of those mysteries that will never be solved. Nevertheless, the story of what could have happened has piqued my interest for a few days.

If you or a family member donated an old radio to the Abbotsford Salvation Army Op Shop in the early 1970s and knew a friend that had a liaison with someone called Graham (with an H) please leave a comment. I’d love to hear the full tale, especially if there is a happily ever after.

The rise and fall of mini-Melbourne

by Adrienne Leith
Publish date
11 May 2012
Comments (1)

Adrienne creates and presents public programs at Melbourne Museum.

Most of our holiday activities for kids include a make-and-take aspect, where visitors go home with a memento of their own creation, such as an Egyptian pendant. Last holidays, we took a different approach, designing a communal and collaborative program to build a mini-Melbourne within The Melbourne Story exhibition.

We weren't sure if visitors would be happy to work on something that they couldn't take home, but we needn't have worried. Each day the mini-city grew and grew and grew, so much so that Whelan the Wrecker had to come in a few times to make room for the city's growth. (Ah, how art mirrors life!) By the end of the holidays, the entrance to the Melbourne Gallery was completely full.

Cardboard city Urban sprawl of the cardboard variety at mini-Melbourne.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

Each participant received a cardboard square, two rectangles, a triangle, a person and three connectors to put the set together. From these simple components grew a huge array of city features. Memorable were the churches, art galleries, museums, dance studio, aquarium, South Vermont Primary School and about ten Herald Sun buildings. More personalised were the homes with family names (in English and Vietnamese) and street numbers. There were lots of boats, trains and trams but surprisingly no cars – however there was a submarine!

Buildings and residents of mini-Melbourne. Buildings and residents of mini-Melbourne.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

The city was populated too, with little people sitting on or hanging off the buildings. The population explosion was very evident as the holidays progressed – the little people everywhere really made the whole scene come alive.

Mini Melburnians Mini-Melburnians in their cardboard city.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

Participants were aged from about 18 months to grown-ups and of course not everyone approached the project the same way. Younger kids wanted to decorate and construct their own buildings, while older, kids, teenagers and adults banded together to make bigger and more ambitious group projects. The cardboard pieces were decorated with coloured textas and then constructed to individual designs. So much concentration and so many conversations!

Sadly, we couldn't keep the city but we did keep the little people, all 5,000 of them. We are now seeking an artist who might like to use them in an art work or installation so the people of our mini-Melbourne live on. If you have a new home for the mini-Melburnians, email me at Melbourne Museum.

Staff working on mini-Melbourne Museum staff preparing the cardboard components of mini-Melbourne.
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria

The autumn holiday team included Lisa Nink, Bernard Caleo, David Perkins, Jen Brook, Alexandra Johnstone, Lauren Ellis and 46 wonderful volunteers.

"That's my dress!"

by Kate C
Publish date
4 July 2011
Comments (3)

Curators Michael Reason and Deborah Tout-Smith were delighted to welcome Judith Durham, lead singer of the 1960s folk-pop group The Seekers, when she dropped in to today to see her dress in The Melbourne Story exhibition. "It's mind-blowing. That's my dress, and it's on display in the museum!" she exclaimed as she saw it for the first time in many years.

Judith Durham next to her dress Judith Durham next to her dress in The Melbourne Story, on loan from the National Film and Sound Archive.
Image: Jon Augier
Source: Museum Victoria

The dress is on loan from the National Film and Sound Archive and is featured in the Melbourne music history section. Judith donated it and other outfits to the NFSA some years ago. "I love it. It was so suited to me as a person," she said. She was pleased to give Michael and Deborah some more information about how and when she wore it.

Judith bought the dress from a South Yarra boutique to wear for a Channel Nine special program called The World Of The Seekers. It became an iconic outfit when a photograph taken during the film shoot at Como House appeared on the cover of The Best of The Seekers 1968 compilation album.



MV News: A dress of its own 

The Melbourne Story

About this blog

Updates on what's happening at Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum, Scienceworks, the Royal Exhibition Building, and beyond.