One of the Museum’s latest acquisitions is this late 18th century halfpenny token which features images of three exotic animals, ‘The Kanguroo, The Armadillo and
The Rhinoceros’. Thomas Hall, a taxidermist and curiosity dealer, produced these tokens to advertise his ‘house of curiosity’, otherwise known as the Finsbury Museum, which he operated from his home at 10 City Road, London. The token illustrates the fascination and curiosity shown by the British public in the late 18th and early 19th centuries to view exhibits of exotic animals, in particular the kangaroo from New
South Wales. Continue reading
One of the most interesting aspects of working as a curator is observing how different people interpret objects in different ways. Some people may look at a writing box and see a functional object made to serve a specific purpose, others may view it as an object which tells the story of a person, place or event, and some may even experience an emotional response. Last week, I was privileged to gain an insight into how a contemporary artist is interpreting some of our collection through his camera lens. Continue reading
Christmas Day – before the daylight saving – it would be daylight at half past four in the morning and there’d be kids out on bikes and scooters and they’d all come to show the milkman what they’d got for Christmas …
Conway Tighe, owner of the Lincoln Park Dairy until 1987, remembers the excitement of the children early on Christmas morning, as he went about his daily business of delivering milk to homes in the Melbourne suburb of Essendon. The milkman and his horse and cart were a familiar sight in the suburb, at one stage delivering milk to over a thousand households. Continue reading
Imagine yourself, for a minute, as a 15-year-old girl at boarding school in England in 1826. An urgent message arrives to inform you that your mother has taken ill and you must come to her at once. The concern for your mother’s condition weighs heavily on your mind as you rush off in an awaiting carriage. When your carriage stops to change horses, you are informed by a charming gentleman that your mother is not actually ill at all, but you are to travel with him to meet your father in Kendal. You agree to travel with this man, who you had never met prior to this evening, and on arrival in Kendal there
is no sign of your father. The charming gentleman explains to you that your father is
on the verge of financial ruin and convinces you to marry him in order to save your family’s fortune. What choice do you have? It is a proposal you cannot refuse. Your journey continues to Gretna Green, Scotland where you are married by the blacksmith and become the wife of Edward Gibbon Wakefield. Continue reading
This watercolour painting, English mail day at the Post Office, Melbourne by Nicholas Chevalier, shows a frenzy of activity outside the original post office building at the corner of Bourke and Elizabeth Streets about 1862. People flocked to the post office in anticipation of receiving news from home. Continue reading
Our new kangaroo has taken pride of place in the Hobart exhibit of our Landmarks gallery, replacing a larger male kangaroo which was on loan from the Tasmanian Museum and
Art Gallery. The most rewarding step of the curatorial process is to finally see the installation of objects in the galleries and observe how visitors interact with the exhibits. Continue reading
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
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
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
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.