Kangaroo closeup

A frosty reception

Hobart and Canberra rank as two of the coldest cities in Australia. As winter temperatures set in, spare a thought for our latest acquisition, the Forester kangaroo taxidermy specimen. In late 2013, this female kangaroo died of natural causes within the Boronong Wildlife Sanctuary in Brighton, Tasmania. The taxidermy was commissioned by the National Museum of Australia and prepared by Tom Sloane from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

The kangaroo has arrived from Hobart at the National Museum’s storage facilities at Mitchell, a suburb on the outskirts of Canberra. Unfortunately, the welcoming committee was far from warm. As soon as the kangaroo was removed from the packing crate, she was covered in calico and plastic wrappings and put into the freezer.

There she remained for a week, at a constant temperature of minus 21 degrees C. Continue reading

Hobart case in the Landmarks gallery with Forester kangaroo on loan from TMAG. Photo: National Museum of Australia

A crash course in taxidermy

WARNING: This blog post contains images which may be upsetting to some readers

The role of an assistant curator in a museum encompasses many different tasks, but one, which I had not envisaged is the procurement of taxidermy specimens. When asked to investigate the possibility of commissioning a specimen of a Forester kangaroo for our Landmarks gallery, I was slightly apprehensive. My knowledge of taxidermy, as I imagine for most people, was extremely limited.

As a child, I remember visiting museums and staring in wonder at exotic animals and birds, allowing my imagination to take me to places and dreaming of seeing these creatures in their natural environment. Continue reading

Colonel Light's vision from Montifiore Hill, North Adelaide, showing the new stands of the Adelaide Oval. Photo: David Niven

Light’s vision hit for six

As the second Ashes test on Australian soil for the 2013-14 series begins in Adelaide tomorrow, I wonder what Colonel Light would think of the growth of his city and in particular the re-development of Adelaide Oval. Since 1938, the statue of Colonel Light has watched over the city of Adelaide, perfectly positioned on Montefiore Hill. The view towards the city, with Adelaide Oval in the foreground, is known as Light’s Vision and has for many years featured on postcards and promotional shots of Adelaide. Continue reading

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An early morning view of Melbourne

The installation of new objects to our galleries is often done in the mornings, before the Museum opens to the public. Staff members from curatorial, conservation, registration and exhibitions are all involved in the process.

A recent addition to our Landmarks gallery is this wood engraving showing a panoramic view of Melbourne by the artist, Thomas Carrington. It was originally published as a supplement to the Melbourne weekly paper, The Australasian, and shows the rapid expansion of the city during the 1870s. After many hours of research, writing, conservation treatment, design and planning, it is great to finally see the object on display.

Continue reading

Cartoon poster of Aunty Uvy

Everybody had an ‘Aunty Ivy’

…or an Aunty Hilda or an Aunty Edna.

There is something very familiar and comforting about ‘Aunty Ivy’. The character was introduced to the ‘Life. Be in it.’ public health campaign in the late 1980s, as a contrast to couch potato, ‘Norm’, who spent his days watching television. ‘Aunty Ivy’ was energetic and encouraged people to get out into the garden, enjoy the fresh air and, without even realising it, improve their health. Her personality is easy to relate to, that older mentor with an infectious enthusiasm and passion, in this case, for gardening. Continue reading