With my commute now running pretty smoothly, and the Museum Victoria internship in full-swing, I have been exposed to a number of tasks and activities that will definitely come in handy in the next couple of months, as I attempt to get a foot in the door of the museum world back in the UK.
Here is a run down of a few of the many highlights so far:
- Marine Invertebrate Store Tour – Whilst the Humanities and Technology hub is where it all happens for the work that I’m doing, a whole other world exists on the third floor in the Natural Sciences department. I was able to have a sneak-peek at what goes on in the Marine Invertebrate store, the home to Museum Victoria’s collection of weird and wonderful sea creatures. One of preservation techniques that they use is to store specimens in ethanol. With one hand over my mouth, I was able to have a quick look in a huge container that houses a giant squid – an unexpected and very cool end to the tour.
- Emu Database & MVWISE – On the digital front, the chance to learn the basics of the Emu system – despite being a little overwhelming at first, provides a great basis for future run-ins with other museum databases. It was also interesting to see how MVWISE digital devices are used on a daily basis by managers of the collection stores in order to facilitate easy movement and barcoding of in-coming and existing objects.
- Writing a Thematic Narrative – Technology seems to be playing an increasingly important part in both the museum’s everyday tasks and in giving the public access to more of its collections. The MV Collections Online web-page does exactly this as photographs and descriptions of objects are put up to enable the availability of more and more information. It was a great to put my writing skills back into action and produce a Thematic Narrative about the history of the ten pound assisted passage – the topic that has filled most of my time at the museum. Needing to be concise and informative in order to write a good narrative, as well as having it published on the website, is a nice piece of evidence to have when it comes to future job applications.
- Immigration Museum – Having some time to visit the Immigration Museum – another of Museum Victoria’s sites – has been insightful on a number of fronts. The museum will eventually house the British Migration exhibition I have been getting involved with, so it was important to see the context that the exhibition would be sitting in. It was also interesting to see how themes surrounding immigration have been dealt with so far; some aspects of the existing exhibitions are hard-hitting and lead the visitor to reflect on the kinds of judgements they make about the people around them.
- Prep Department & Conservation Lab – Melbourne Museum’s taxidermy collection is huge and includes the city’s most prized four-legged friend, Phar Lap the racing horse. Despite not quite understanding the craze surrounding the animal – his story attracts a large proportion of the museum’s visitors each year – the preservation of Phar Lap is very impressive. The prep department is responsible for creating all the displays found in the museum, so getting the chance to pop into their workshop to learn about the processes of building props was a real treat. An added bonus was an opportunity to visit the Conservation lab to have a brief overview of the tricky issues that come with trying to preserve artefacts so that people can benefit from their history for as along as possible.
My behind-the-scenes view of Melbourne Museum is proving to be jam-packed with fascinating and educational experiences – I have no doubt that my upcoming weeks are going to fly by.