Australia’s favourite birds

Have you seen a pennantian parrot lately? Do wattled bee-eaters live in your backyard? What about the crested goatsucker or the white vented crow?

This week is BirdLife Australia’s annual Bird Week, and, to celebrate, the conservation organisation is inviting Australians to vote for their favourite bird. This avian election prompted my colleague Martha Sear and I to wonder which species the first British settlers in Australia might have selected as their favourite local bird, so we looked at the National Museum’s copy of Surgeon-General John White’s Journal of a Voyage to new South Wales to see how he might have voted in the Bird Week survey.

It turns out that White was fascinated by a number of different birds that he found in the Sydney area, buts it’s tricky to figure out exactly which species caught his interest. His journal features birds with quite unusual names, like the pennantian parrot and the crested goatsucker, that I’ve certainly never heard of before.

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Collecting the future

How should museums engage and respond to climate change? How can we use our collections, exhibitions and programs and our traditions of fostering conversation and debate to help communities make sense of this global challenge?

A few weeks ago, I travelled to the American Museum of Natural History in New York in the United States, to talk with other curators, educators, scientists and scholars about these complicated and challenging questions. The workshop was the first part of a project, called Collecting the Future: Museums, communities and climate change, that I’ve been developing over the past year with Libby Robin, a senior research fellow here at the National Museum, and with Jenny Newell and Jacklyn Lacey of the Department of Anthropology at the American Museum of Natural History.

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Blue sky with wisps of clouds

Skyscapes and heritage

How often do we look up and wonder ‘What’s the cultural value of a patch of blue sky?’

A few days ago, international urban conservation expert Dr Ron van Oers prompted me to consider this very question. Ron was at the National Museum to present a public lecture discussing the evolution and achievements of the UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s ‘Historic Urban Landscape Initiative’. This initiative, launched in 2005, aims to help urban planners resolve the complex interests shaping the management of many world heritage listed urban areas, monuments and buildings. It focuses particularly on the integration of conservation plans with agendas of socio-economic development. Continue reading

Three dogs in the back of a ute.

A blog about dogs

… and about cats, horses, plants, viruses, rocks, farms, houses, roads, bicycles and the diverse and intriguing ways in which Australians are inter-connected with them all.

Welcome to our new People & Environment Blog. This is a place for members of the National Museum of Australia’s People and the Environment program to talk about our work collecting, researching, writing, talking and exhibiting about Australians’ relationships with their physical environments.

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