I first met Darrell Hick on Rottnest Island in 2007 while I was doing some research with the island’s heritage officer, Patsy Vizents, for the National Museum of Australia’s Landmarks gallery. Darrell had just undertaken some conservation work on an historic firearm that had been on display in the Oliver Hill WWII gun battery. I was enjoying a pie from the ever-popular bakery. He asked me what kind of objects the Museum was hoping to display as part of a planned exhibit about Rottnest. The most obvious and important symbol of the Island, I said, was a bicycle: “Do you happen to have one that you used on the Island”, I asked hopefully.
Nowadays when you talk about a ‘work horse’, you are probably referring to a ute, truck or some other form of mechanised equipment. In the not too distant past, a work horse was, as the phrase suggests, a heavy horse used for work and most likely for haulage. In many museums (including the National Museum) you can view displays of machinery that these horses hauled or powered. Rarely, however, do you see or think about the objects that helped to power the horses. Continue reading
With Chinese New Year celebrations now underway around the world, 2014 is a year to consider the beauty and power of the horse. As 2014 is the year of the Wooden Horse, it is particularly poignant for the Horses in Australia project team at the National Museum, and a good time to reflect on a few horse stories in the Museum’s collections.
How many species of birds can you identify just by looking at the size, shape and colour of their eggs? For me, the answer is probably one or two, so I recently asked collection donor Bill Gibbs and ornithologist Dick Schodde to visit the Museum to help describe the species represented in some 276 bird eggs. For me, engaging with these beautiful eggs provoked complicated thoughts of loss and appreciation.
Museums enable the drawing of meaning and understanding from the material world. Visitors to the National Museum of Australia encounter objects strategically grouped by curators and designers, beside text carefully written and edited, near images selected for their relevance to the objects on display and processed for maximum visual effect.
But of course, visitors have their own, particular capacities to make sense of things they find in exhibitions or inside museum storage repositories, and objects have their own Continue reading
In a few weeks time, on the 25th February, the Royal Automobile Club of Australia will be celebrating the Year of the Horse with its inaugural Horsepower Dinner. The club is generously donating to the National Museum $30 for each person booked for the event to help support our Horses in Australia project, and especially our exhibition which opens in September. You can find more details about the dinner, and how to purchase tickets, here.
Yesterday a fellow curator alerted me to a sign that she’d driven past that morning in the Australian National University, ‘CAUTION: Bees in Lavender’. Today on the way to work I stopped to have a look. University staff had erected no less than five warning signs beside the buzzing, fragrant swathe of blossoming lavender. I started keeping bees Continue reading
When I first started working at the National Museum, I felt as though I’d arrived in an Aladdin’s cave – a treasure trove of collections from which I could choose whatever I wanted to explore and to write about. Continue reading
The Museum’s People and the Environment team is heading off on holidays, but we’ve left you a few ‘gifts’ to enjoy over the summer holidays.
To help you pass those lovely lazy days we’ve just launched new pages on our People and the Environment website. If you’re following the Horses in Australia project, you’ll enjoy a glimpse of our forthcoming exhibition, opening in Canberra in September 2014. We’ve included some of our first ideas about what the show will look like, but we still need your help deciding on the exhibition’s title. If you’ve a few minutes to spare please do complete the name survey, open until the end of January.
‘the cultural paradigm is both the most obvious and the least developed in fire research’
Stephen J. Pyne 2007
International Journal of Wildland Fire, 16: 273
‘The mechanisms of storytelling… are our best hope of building a more inclusive and a more responsible citizenship’
Quentin Bryce, ABC Boyer Lectures, 2013
The Victorian Bushfire Project 2009-2013
The Victorian Bushfire Project began with an unexpected story, and it has been fuelled by more and more surprising stories since. Telling true stories has been the route to the Continue reading