Dr Steven Fleming has been poking the hornets nest that is urban planning for over a decade, with his mission to put cycling on the agendas of architects, politicians, designers and academics. Together with his colleague Professor Angelina Russo, he has been holding a series of provocative workshops around the country to get people thinking about the potential for bicycles to change the shape of our cities and the way we live. What’s different about these workshops is that they are being hosted by museums and will be run in conjunction with the National Museum’s Freewheeling: Cycling in Australia exhibition.
So why are Museum’s the best place to re-imagine the physical and cultural fabric of our cities? I’ll hand over to Dr Fleming, for his point of view…….. 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
I’ve never really been all that keen on seaweed. At least, not until recently, when a nineteenth century album of pressed seaweed specimens began to open my eyes to the wonderful world of marine macroalgae. Now I find seaweed changing how I see and think about Australia. Continue reading
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is ‘Make it Happen’ – an approach clearly shared by the little-known yet talented Australian petrologist Dr Germaine Joplin (1903-1989).
50 years ago women were particularly prominent in the field of geology, yet they struggled to gain recognition and acceptance among their male counterparts. Today, the gender gap is still a concern for Australian science. Leading Australian scientists explored the reasons for this in 2011 in The Conversation. Despite outstanding talent and hard work women scientists experienced prejudice and discrimination in the workplace, if they were lucky enough to gain employment. Determination and a thick skin were prerequisite for any woman then aspiring to a profession in the sciences.
Amongst the National Museum’s initial list of 100 Defining Moments in Australian history is 16 November 1920, the establishment of Qantas. This date was the culmination of a series of defining moments – years of trial and error that got Qantas in the air. From partnerships formed on the First World War battlefields, a long drive, chasing government subsidies and public support, and finding suitable aircraft, the Qantas story is focussed on responses to the social, environmental and economic possibilities and needs for an aerial service across western Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Today, 94 years after the company’s inaugurating papers were signed in Brisbane, it seems appropriate to reflect on the circumstances, technologies, personalities, events and environments that gave rise to the flying kangaroo.
Last week I attended the opening of The Australian Geographic ANZANG Nature Photographer of the Year 2014 exhibition at the South Australian Museum, in Adelaide. It was wonderful to be amongst the excitement as the competition winners were announced. Celebrating the landscapes and animals of the Australasian region, the competition attracts the amazing talents of thousands of photographers each year. I went to the exhibition opening with one of the finalists, Ruth Smith – a friend and contributor to the National Museum’s Landmarks gallery – and enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on her work and the art of photography.
It’s truly serendipitous how the fabrics of our lives sometimes manage to weave themselves into fortuitous little knots of connection, and it seems that just such a knot led to this guest blog post – exploring two women’s contemporary lives in the bush – by Pappinbarra River valley resident Chay Khamsone and her neighbour-come-colleague Bryony Anderson.
You see, not long ago, I wrote an article titled “A botanical life”, which explored the life of a young girl named Annabella Innes. In the 1840s, Annabella lived at Lake Innes Estate, about 11km west of Port Macquarie, and was fascinated with the surrounding natural environment, carefully recording it in her diaries and botanical watercolours. She was an 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
‘It is busy with trees, with animals and with men. It is lonely and beautiful. It is a million wild acres. And there is no other forest like it.’
– Eric Rolls, A Million Wild Acres.
The Pilliga is a beaten-up burnt-out forest where the creeks flow underground and the trees grow barely as wide as a child’s arm. Its grasses have been eaten and its soils pulverised, its timber ringbarked and wood-chipped. It is criss-crossed with fire breaks and narrow old logging roads. Wild boars tear out from its sandy watercourses and wind whips dust into your eyes here.
And yet there are a bunch of people lining up to get arrested – to turn their lives upside down – for this ‘scrub’.
On a cold and windy day, the National Museum’s ‘Horse team’ were amongst thousands of people gathered to witness history in a paddock at ‘Willow Vale’, just outside of Yass, New South Wales. An initiative of the Yass Antique Farm Machinery Club Inc, ‘Woo back!’ hosted 28 horses and their humans to set a Guiness World Record for the most heavy horses ploughing in one field. It was an enthusiastic celebration of the contribution of equine muscle to Australia’s agricultural history, allowing a new generation to see horse drawn ploughs in action.