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Post-traumatic stress and the long Shadow of Ebola

After 42 days without a new case of Ebola, Liberia is officially now ‘free’ of the disease, as of 9 May 2015, according to the World Health Organization. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-09/liberia-declared-free-of-ebola-disease/6457992 On-going vigilance is urged; there are still new cases in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Guinea, and diseases do not respect national jurisdictions. Continue reading

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To the curious observers of natural phenomena

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

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Moving to still

One characteristic of water is that it is always moving, albeit at very different rates.  Even ice moves.  Alice Outwater in her book Water: A Natural History, says that ‘A single water molecule making its way through a stream and forest ecosystem is on a biological Ferris wheel.  A raindrop may hit a leaf, trickle down to the bark of a branch, evaporate to come back down again as rain that flows into soil and is sucked up by a root hair and is transpired from a leaf – to become yet again a raindrop that comes down in a storm and runs overland into a stream.’(Outwater, p64) Continue reading

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Strange Objects for Strange Times

We live in strange times. Strange weather, strange financial markets, strange technologies are all about us, and anxiety is at high levels. The Great Acceleration of global change can leave humans stranded, feeling stressed and out of time. One of the ways we can respond to this is to slow down, rather than speed up, for survival.

Slow Media are increasingly important in strange and fast times. Museums are places where visitors physically spend slow time with special objects, perhaps with friends or grandchildren, perhaps in serendipitous conversation with other people whose curiosity has been stimulated by the same object in the cabinet. They are an important part of a Continue reading

An artistic interpretation

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

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Helpful to harmful

Remember Goldilocks? She was the girl who liked her porridge not too hot, not too cold but just right. When it comes to water, humans are just like her. Too much water is just as bad as too little, and it has to be just right.

Water is so essential to human endeavour that it is hard to keep this brief. On the helpful side of the equation, water is essential to maintain physical health, it’s an amazing solvent and cleaner, it provides beautiful places to recreate and extinguishes fire. On the harmful side, lives and livelihoods are destroyed in floods, damp conditions can affect crops and water can provide the right breeding grounds for organisms that impair human health.  In this blog post I use two Continue reading

New Goulbourn Weir. http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Goulburn_Weir_005.JPG

Domestic to industrial

Water enables so many tasks in the world that sometimes, we can forget how essential it is. At the domestic level we use water to drink, cook with, clean ourselves and our clothes and to keep our gardens growing.  Industrially, water is a vital input to many industries but perhaps the most well recognised is the agricultural industry.  This post takes a look at two objects, relating to the home laundry and the development of large scale agriculture, as a means of exploring this spectrum of domestic to industrial.

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Introduced to native

The history of water includes the history of gardening. Different species have different water needs, reflecting their place of evolution. When European settlers arrived in Australia full of images of lush meadows and verdant trees, based on their lived experience in many cases, a kind of cognitive dissonance happened. The old environmental reality and their new reality didn’t match up. This gap has been slowly closing over time, and we can see this in action through the Continue reading

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A photo finish…

After six months on show, the Spirited horses are returning to their stables and paddocks for a well-earned rest. From 11 September 2014 to 9 March 2015, over 52,000 people visited the Spirited exhibiton, enjoying a stream of associated tours, talks, holiday programs and events. If you missed the exhibition, National Museum photographers George Serras and Jason McCarthy captured Spirited from every angle so that we can continue to explore, share and reflect on Australia’s horse story.

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