Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Fifth week at work

My report

My fifth and final week at work, time has gone so quickly! At the beginning of the week I was very busy finishing off my report. I have compiled all my research, narratives, data enhancement, relevant literature and ideas for display into a folder for the museum. I then prepared for my talk that I gave to my department about my research on the magazine and my time here. It was a great opportunity to practice my public speaking and improve my professional communication skills. I really enjoyed doing it and loved talking about the magazine and showing a few funny articles and cartoons. I also had the chance to chat with the CEO of Museum Victoria Patrick Green, who is from the UK himself.

I attended two meetings, one of which was the 'Anzac Centenary – A Joint Meeting for Exhibitions and Education & Online Networks'. Melbourne is the first in Australia to start off these meetings ready for 2014; I was really impressed and thought it was a brilliant way for organisations in Melbourne to know what each other are doing for the centenary so there will be no overlap of exhibitions or education in 2014. Some of the organisations that attended were; Museum Victoria, the State Library of Victoria, the Shrine of Remembrance, Bendigo Post Office Gallery, City Gallery, McClelland Gallery, National Archives of Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, National Sports museum, National trust – memorials and the Victorian arts centre. Items for discussion included; education, funding and online development. Overall the meeting went really well even with so many different organisations present and they plan to hold them every 3-4 months. The second meeting was actually a part 2 from the first WW1 concept meeting I attended a few weeks ago. It was great to have a follow up meeting and we discussed further our qualities for the exhibition, interpretive approaches, audience, title, promotion and activities. I loved having the chance to get involved at the meeting as I have found I really enjoy planning and preparing for exhibitions.

That week I also had a chat to my supervisor about perhaps making a link between the University of Birmingham and Museum Victoria for the centenary exhibition; as I know that in our collections at the University we have a few items relating to Australia during WW1. I suggested that I could write a blog for Museum Victoria’s website, as they have regular blogs, or if it is of interest I could even develop it further somehow. I know of one photo of Australian soldiers standing in the University grounds; they were being treated at the 1st Southern General military hospital, aka the University’s Great Hall. I also know our Research and Cultural collections at the University hold a quilt that was hand made by convalescent soldiers including Australian and New Zealand soldiers. I also showed my supervisor a couple more photos of wounded soldiers in the University grounds as I knew that will be of interest to her as Melbourne Museum’s centenary exhibition will feature the theme of wounded or injured soldiers. My supervisor loved the idea and thought it would be a terrific link; she put me in touch with the writer and editor of Museum Victoria’s blog and I am now in talks with her and my university to try and put something together. I think it would be great for me to establish this link with the Museum and therefore hopefully lead to more collaboration in the future.

Winning this internship has been such a fantastic experience; I have learnt so much, accomplished the goals I set out to achieve, had the amazing opportunity to be involved with a big organisation and lived in Australia for my summer! I am so grateful to Global Challenge at the University of Birmingham and also to all the staff at Melbourne Museum for being so hospitable; it was a pleasure to take part in the scheme and to be the first to venture out across the world. I really hope that this is the start of something great for the University and that they continue giving students this amazing opportunity each year. As for myself, I have thrived during this placement, I feel ready to go out into the world of work and I am now confident in my career goals.



Thanks Global Challenge!


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Fourth week and Cairns

The new arrival - An African Lion

On the boat

Diving in the Great Barrier Reef

The Rainforest

For my fourth week I carried on with all my research and began to put together my report. I took pictures of all the interesting cartoons or articles in the ‘Aussie’ magazine and then related them to my research on changing attitudes to authority after the war; changing mood after the war; Depictions or acknowledgement of injury – facial and other and Indigenous people and other representations of diversity. I also started to come up with a couple of ideas on how the magazines could be included in the Centenary exhibition and how they could be displayed. On my time off, I also had a chance to visit the National Gallery of Victoria again after arranging a visit with the librarian, to do a bit of research for my dissertation as they have a picture there that relates to my topic. I had a look at their curatorial files which were very useful. This week at the Museum we also had a new arrival - an African Lion! From the Burke Museum in Seattle. If you want to read more about the Lion have a look at the MV blog;
This week I was also invited to an exhibition opening by a friend at the Duldig studio in the suburbs of Melbourne. It is a “house museum”—comprised of the residence, sculpture garden and artists’ studio of the internationally renowned sculptor Karl Duldig (1902–1986) and his artist-inventor wife, Slawa Duldig (neĆ© Horowitz, c1902–1975). Karl and his wife fled Vienna during WW2 because they were Jews, to Singapore. Consequently they were also thrown out of Singapore because they were from Germany so they ended up in Melbourne. The exhibition showcased works from the time they spent in Singapore, the walls and floors were covered in art works and we had a talk from Eva their daughter. The exhibition was of much interest to me as they were in Vienna around the time of the Secessionists – a period which I love and I even saw a mask sculpted by Karl that was shown in the Secessionists exhibition in 2011 at the National Gallery of Victoria.
I had an amazing weekend in Cairns, Queensland. Saturday I went to the Great Barrier Reef and I swam with a giant sea turtle and saw a 3 metre shark! The coral is so pretty and the fish are amazing, with rainbow coloured skin. When I saw the giant turtle I swam on top of it and touched it, it also let me swim right next to it and I was looking in its eyes it was amazing! I went to the rainforest on Sunday and went to a small aboriginal town called Kuranda with lots of markets in. The rainforest was beautiful and had gigantic trees and exotic flowers. I also saw waterfalls which were beautiful.

Third week and Sydney


The Sky Tower

A Kookaburra

A Cockatoo

The Botantical Gardens
Australia V New Zealand rugby match

On the boat to Manly
In my third week I went on a trip to Science works (another Museum Victoria site) with staff from Melbourne Museum and had a tour around the store rooms. It is located in Spotswood, five kilometres from the Melbourne Central Business District. It was fascinating to see the huge variety of collections they have, ranging from old cars to grandfather clocks, the first ever IPod to a massive collection of wax fruit. After the tour a few of the staff gave a talk on a topic of their choice, this activity is something the staff are trying to do more of as it helps people get to know each other better.  I loved listening to all the talks and thought it was a lovely thing to do as it opens your eyes to different things that you would have never had learnt about.

That week we also had an unexpected visit from Sir David Attenborough! He was in Melbourne for a speaking tour and visited Melbourne Museum unannounced on Wednesday with his daughter. Sir David is fascinated by anthropology and has collected Australian Aboriginal shields for many years, including rainforest shields from Queensland, so he was keen to see local examples from the MV Indigenous Cultures Collection. Sir David's favourite object was an etched shield from New South Wales. He examined it for some time and said, "That is magnificent, and worth a trip all the way to Australia just to see this." Here is the link to the blog about his visit if you want to know more;

On the weekend I took a trip up to Sydney to stay with some friends. It was beautiful and a lot warmer than Melbourne. The streets are fashioned in a winding manner very unlike Melbourne’s grid system, and it had a more of an American feel to it. My friend’s apartment is located in the circular quay so I had fantastic views over to the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House. First we went up Sydney’s Sky Tower which had views all over Sydney, we then went to the botanical gardens and saw Cockatoos and Kookaburra’s. Saturday night we went to the Australia V New Zealand rugby game at Sydney’s Olympic stadium which was amazing, we saw the Hakka from New Zealand and in the end they won, it was a brilliant game. Sunday we went to Manly, an island off Sydney which has a sea side/ surfer feel to it and then went back to Sydney and went to the rocks market. It was a great weekend and the Harbour Bridge and opera house are stunning, but I was glad to get back to homely Melbourne.

Sunday, 12 August 2012

National Gallery of Victoria, Napolean exhibition

Saturday I went to the National Gallery of Victoria and had a look around at their collections. I also went to the Napoleon exhibition which was excellent.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Second week at work

'Aussie' magazine

Hot chocolate and then a trip to the IMAX to see Batman

I really enjoyed my second week at the Museum. I was able to get a lot of my research into the magazines done. I found a couple of references to aboriginal people and diversity for example one interesting image, which was of much interest to my supervisors, of Australia with black trickling down from the north dividing up the country; the caption read "The future of Australia if the Black Australians get their way". I also found some cartoons relating to attitudes to authority which depicts a role reversal between the digger’s and the authorities. One caption reads “What’s going on here?”, “Oh, they’re C.O’s who used to keep diggers unnecessarily standing to attention on parade for long periods. They’re undergoing their punishment of having to stand at attention until next eternity.” I also learnt a couple of Aussie phrases such as; Blighty – Home, Furphy – Rumour and Digger – Solider/friend. I also noticed that at the back of some of the early editions there was contempt of authority through humour and irony – fake advertisements towards something that the diggers felt strongly about. For example an advert for a free discharge from the war and an advert for ‘Bluffem Shock Absorbers’ the caption reads ‘Why suffer from shell-shock when a bluffem shock absorber will enable you to withstand the full force of any shell entirely unaffected’. I also heard about another magazine called ‘The Astra magazine’ which was put out in the Broadmeadows training camp in Melbourne around 1916 by the third division. This could prove an interesting comparison to the ‘Aussie’ magazine.

This week I also attended the acquisitions subcommittee meeting. They looked over recent proposals for acquisitions, looking at any drawbacks or gaps in Emu, they then agreed on accepting proposals. The second half of the meeting, the individual who had organised the acquisition came in to answer any questions on it and they considered if any items need conservation. I attended another meeting that day which was the WW1 concept meeting. Focus groups had been held on the topics of War, WW1 and the Museum’s proposal for the centenary of WW1. The chair reported back what had been found. It was really interesting finding out different people’s opinions on war and finding out what effects it had on different age groups. Many said that in an exhibition they want the truth and personal accounts. They want to come away having been affected by what they had seen. There was a lot of positive feedback for the Museum’s proposal which was very encouraging and we spent the rest of the meeting reflecting on that feedback and brainstorming ideas for the exhibition.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Melbourne's International film festival

Melbourne International Film Festival

Lots of Elephants have started popping up around Melbourne, apparently its Mali … the baby elephant. The Melbourne Zoo celebrates 150 years and got together 50 artist-designed elephants throughout the Melbourne CBD.

On Wednesday I managed to go to Melbourne’s International film festival with a friend. It was held in the Forum theatre which is an amazing building; it is designed like the forum in Rome. There was a talk before the film about writers and directors which was really interesting and the atmosphere there was so relaxed. We then watched a French film called Monsieur Lazhar, which I really enjoyed. Melbourne has so much culture to offer and it seems like there is a new event or festival each day.

Phillip Island and an Aussie Rules Football game

Koala bear

Helicopter ride over Phillip Island

Aussie rules football, Sydney Swans V Carlton

On the weekend I took a tour down to Phillip Island to see the penguin parade. On the way I went on a helicopter around the Island and went to Waru Koala and Animal Park. We then made our way down to the penguin parade, where penguins emerge from the sea at dusk in groups and waddle up the beach back to their homes. Sunday I was invited to an Aussie Rules game by some friends, they are Sydney Swans members so I got to sit in the cheer section right behind the goal. It is a very exciting place to sit and I even caught the ball and threw it back in. Afterwards we were allowed to meet the players and I met the best player for Sydney – Adam Goodes.

Melbourne Art Fair

On Friday I went to Melbourne’s Art Fair held in the Royal Exhibition Building next door to the Museum. It is an exhibition of leading contemporary art, presented by over 80 selected national and international galleries. The event features paintings, sculpture, photography, installation and multimedia art works of over 900 artists. I loved seeing all the galleries represented and all the art, the building is amazing inside as well. It definitely gives you a lot of inspiration as you look around.

First week at work

'Aussie' magazine from WW1 - the items I am working with.
In the store room with the magazines
View from my desk looking out to the Royal Exhibition Building and Melbourne

My main outcomes for the project are to update Emu database records for the ‘Aussie’ magazines, focussing on Object Summary, Description, Inscription, Subjects and Associations. I will also complete Drafted narratives for Emu on the magazine and the editor Phillip Harris. I will conduct research into the First World War around the Changing attitudes to authority after the war; changing mood after the war; Depictions or acknowledgement of injury –facial and other and Indigenous people and other representations of diversity. I will also participate in project team meetings, attend departmental meetings and liaise with curators. At the end of my time here I will present a report and also give a talk to my department about my findings.


The magazines I am working with are called ‘Aussie’, (1918- circa 1929) they are commercial magazines of opinion, review and entertainment. They were edited by Phillip Harris and published in France from 1918 – 1919 on a small printing press that Harris brought with him to France. The magazine celebrated a distinctive ‘Aussie’ identity, through their language, their humour and their assertion of what it meant to be an Australian. It allowed news to be distributed, gave the soldiers an outlet to express any dissent or dissatisfaction, thus preventing any greater form of rebellion and promoted Australian authors like Banjo Paterson, C.J. Dennis and Bernard O'Dowd. After the war, Phillip Harris produced a monthly in Sydney and renamed it: ‘Aussie: the Cheerful Monthly’ from 1920. It built a sizeable circulation and for more than a decade it published the major Australian writers and cartoonists of the day. It set out to sustain the digger culture and defending the rights of the veterans, while also embracing the re-adjustment of returned soldiers into civilian life.

When I arrived on my first day, I was met by the Senior Curator in Politics and Society –Charlotte smith, who introduced me to the entire department and then took me on a tour of the museum and its collections. While Charlotte took me round she explained how the museum worked and its different departments. I then went into the store rooms and was given object handling training with the magazines. That afternoon, I was taught how to use the museum database – ‘Emu’ which I will be working with a lot to data enhance the magazine collection and then eventually transfer that data onto the Museums online collections. After my induction I got to work on my project, I decided to make a spread sheet to begin with, so I knew what information we had on Emu already and what information I needed to add. I had a look through the magazines to get a better idea of how they are compiled and their layout.
The whole of the contents of the magazine were written or drawn by members of the A.I.F. in the Field. Some of the short stories and jokes are really amusing and it is a pleasure to have a read through them, however you do realise that times have changed and that some of their humour or depictions are quite radical and would be considered unacceptable in today’s magazines. In the middle of the week I met my primary supervisor –Deborah Tout-Smith and we discussed my outcomes for the project. For the rest of the week I conducted research on the magazine and its author and updated the magazines classification, physical description, inscriptions, associations, subjects, historical significance and references. At the end of the week I attended the Humanities department meeting, issues included, research updates; the moving of collections; acquisition updates and department news. The meeting was really interesting and I got a real insight into the museum.

Cultural Treasures Festival, Open House Melbourne, Melbourne Zoo and Aquarium

Cultural Treasures Festival, University of Melbourne

Yum Cha

Open House Melbourne, at the top of the CH2 tower

Flinders street station

A koala bear at Melbourne Zoo

My first weekend in Melbourne and it was the Cultural Treasures Festival at the University, Open house Melbourne and the Australian Antiquarian Book Fair. The Cultural Treasures Festival showcased an array of Melbourne’s museums and collections, featuring unique exhibitions, talks and tours. I managed to help out at the event as I knew someone working there; I was based in the Old Quadrangle a really pretty part of the University. I then met up with an Alumni of Birmingham who lives in Melbourne. She took me to Chinatown, to a restaurant called The Sharkfin and we had Yum Cha, which means drinking tea. The waiters filled the table with food, much of which I had no idea what it was but everything tasted good! We then went to one of the buildings open for Melbourne’s Open House weekend. It was the CH2 tower, it is occupied by the City of Melbourne council, and was the first purpose-built office building in Australia to achieve a maximum Six Green Star rating – designed in a unique way to save energy and reduce emissions. We had a guided tour and then went on to the roof where the employees have lunch and looked out over Melbourne. Sunday I went to Melbourne’s Zoo and Aquarium and saw lots of Australian animals including koala bears, kangaroo's and wallabies.