Bunya Power

On Thursday morning, as my plane taxied across the tarmac of Canberra airport, thirsty jet engines warming themselves for the flight north, I began reading Ray Kerkhove’s extraordinary document, The Great Bunya Gathering: Early Accounts. This compilation of stories and memories of the bunya trees of southeast Queensland captures and conveys something of the power of these majestic rainforest beings, of their capacities to draw people towards their towering trunks and vast crowns, to feast regularly on their abundant offerings of nutritious and delicious nuts, to celebrate and Continue reading

Freewheeling spins into Canberra

The National Museum of Australia celebrated the history of cycling in Australia with the official launch on the 13th April of its exhibition Freewheeling: Cycling in Australia. The exhibition has been travelling around Australia since November 2014 and this is the final venue of the tour.

It was a privilege to host Michael Milton, paralympic cyclist, and Gillian Helyar from Pedal Power ACT as the guest speakers at the launch. Michael and Gillian enjoyed a preview of the exhibition, along with NMA Director Dr. Mathew Trinca and Curator Catriona Donnelly. Continue reading

A piece of the ‘goodwill rock’

Tonight, a lunar surface fragment from the National Museum’s collection will appear in the Stargazing Live series, hosted by Professor Brian Cox and Julia Zemiro. Broadcast on the ABC from the Siding Spring Observatory, near Coonabarabran, New South Wales, the moon rock fragment will offer stories from the Moon, NASA astronauts and international politics, as leading scientists and personalities tackle astronomy’s most intriguing questions and seek to inspire Australians to explore our solar system. Next week it will be on display in the Museum’s Hall, a chance to see a small piece of the moon that captures a small moment in history.

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Moth-Man prophecies: reflections from the field

On a mild evening in March, distinguished archaeologist Dr Josephine Flood spoke to a full house in the Museum’s Visions Theatre, at an event co-hosted by the Canberra Archaeological Society and the Museum Friends. Best known for her research regarding the region’s Moth Hunters and dating occupation in places like the Birrigai Rock Shelter to 25,000 years, Dr Flood’s work has bestowed significant scientific value on Aboriginal history in the region. Her work continues to influence contemporary archaeological understandings of Aboriginal occupation particularly of Australia’s High Country, triggered in part by annual feasting and ceremony relating to Bogong Moths. It has been this work in particular that has reconnected Dr Flood with the Museum and its collections; our new environmental history gallery will focus on the intersection between people and these magnificent pathways, such as the one forged and activated by the impressive Bogong Moth migration from southern Queensland into the rock crevices across the Australian High Country. The Museum holds an impressive collection of Dr Flood’s research materials, including archaeological samples associated with moth hunting and life in the High Country.

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A new chapter

On Friday, the Namatjira Legacy Trust was officially launched at the National Museum of Australia. The Museum was pleased to host granddaughters of Albert Namatjira and trustees, Lenie Namatjira and Gloria Pannka, Clara Inkamala, musician Shelli Morris, and Big hART’s Director Scott Rankin and Producer Sophia Marinos, with other special guests to celebrate the occasion. The event also marked the official launch of the Museum’s Ntaria (Hermannsburg) exhibit in the Landmarks gallery.

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Continuing connections

One of the joys of working at a museum is the variety of stories you uncover when researching objects. Another is the pleasure of meeting people who can illuminate and elaborate on those stories and objects.

Recently, when developing a display for our Journeys gallery, I was fortunate enough to work with both a wonderful collection and an engaged and very connected individual. The story relates to the experiences of James Taylor, a farrier with the 9th Light Horse stationed in the Middle East during World War One. The collection of material includes Taylor’s ‘coming home’ tunic, slouch hat, kit bag and pay book. The individual is Fran Kirby, Taylor’s grand daughter.

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Eden and the Spring Winds

 

The Spring Winds – as they always do – trigger new beginnings.

My name is Jilda Andrews and I am the newly appointed ‘audience advocate’ for the National Museum’s new environmental history gallery, known so far as Life in Australia. My background is within the Museum’s Learning Services and Community Outreach team, developing and facilitating public programs that help non-traditional museum audiences gain access to the Museum. I am thrilled to join the Life in Australia team as an audience advocate, to be a part of the machinations of developing a brand new permanent gallery, and to work creatively with the team — the communities, organisations, families and individuals we meet along the way, not only as collaborators, but as core audiences themselves to the new gallery. Continue reading

Art and science under the microscope

In 1910, Miss Gladys Roberts became one of the first employees of the Australian Institute of Tropical Medicine in Townsville, Queensland. She was employed to illustrate publications and research papers by the institute staff on a casual basis until 1930, depicting parasites and micro organisms as seen through a microscope. Colour plates of her illustrations were published in the ‘Report of the Institute for 1911′, and a copy of that report, open to show one of Gladys’ works, is now on display in the Landmarks gallery at the National Museum.

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The Path of the Bogong: Land & People

My name is Patrick Bailey. This is the final of three posts that I’ve prepared as an intern at the National Museum of Australia (and as part of the Australian National Internship Program), which explores how the interaction between human and non-human forces in Southern NSW and the ACT combine to form continual and changing expressions of community identity. This last post will explore how the land has been influenced by people and formed ongoing relationships which resonate with inhabitants today.

Pastoralism

One of the more common stereotypes of alpine Australia involves the presence of brumbies and cattle, and their impact on the environment. However, these two animals are only a recent addition to the region. Until Europeans arrived, no such animals existed here. These new species, along with rabbits, dogs and sheep, and plants such as wheat and barley, changed the landscape Continue reading