Catering for a crowd

Constructed and operating in a newly established capital city, Canberra’s Old Parliament House was designed to be a self-contained building, providing for the needs for members of parliament, staff and visitors. The Commonwealth Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms (CPRR), located in the building’s South Wing, were used to prepare and serve hundreds of meals each day when parliament was sitting, and to cater for grand balls and events for visiting dignitaries. Stories of the ‘silver service’ provided in the building for daily business and special events, are now part of the Old Parliament House exhibit in the National Museum’s Landmarks gallery.

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Bunnies by the boxful

Long before chocolate foiled-covered versions, the bunny was a familiar food to many Australians. Wild rabbits, the introduced European species Oryctolagus cuniculus, were plentiful and could be tastily cooked in a wide variety of ways. During peak periods of Australia’s ‘rabbit problem’ from the late 1800s through into the twentieth century, rabbit-dinners sustained many families, published recipes explained how cooks could get the best out of bunny, and associated Continue reading

‘Round the traps

This post is the second in a series co-developed by Jono Lineen and other curators that explores Australians’ experiences with rabbits through objects in the National Museum’s collections.   

Rabbit trapping helped sustain many Australians through tough times of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, providing livelihoods, extra income or food. Rabbits were plentiful and trapping looked on as a simple way to convert a problem into something useful: money, a hot dinner or furred garment. Besides potential victims, prospective trappers had only a few basic needs: Continue reading

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

Fuelling Horses, People & Futures

Harold Fife was born in 1919 at Wagga Wagga, a busy town among the wheat and sheep farms of southern New South Wales, and died in 2011. During his long life, Fife witnessed a dramatic transformation in methods of generating food and fibre. As a young man, he worked in his family’s chaff-cutting business, which operated across inland New South Continue reading

State Forests of the Pilliga sign.

Toxic tales from the Pilliga

‘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’.

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Food Stories — objects and resilience

It’s been a brutal Australian summer. Record temperatures, unprecedented heatwaves, fires. Those people who draw their living from the land, and the livestock and crops they tend, have suffered most. In the years to come, as the chaotic ecological effects of global warming and climate change intensify, one of our greatest challenges will be to ensure the Continue reading

Collecting & reflecting: inviting thoughts on art & agriculture

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

Under the tree this Christmas

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.

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