Melbourne Museum is one of Museums Victoria’s venues. I love it, which is good as it is where I spend an extraordinary amount of my time as I work there. The museum is also where I spent an extraordinary amount of time as a child. I remember pestering my Mum to take my brothers and I to the museum (at its former location) “Can we go? Pahleeeese!” It fascinated me, I was just as taken with the giant anaconda display (still on display) as well as the giant race horse, Phar Lap (giant to me…he was a big horse and he is still on display).
I fantasised that one day I’d be an archaeologist and would then get to go all the time and would have access to the underground and secret bits of the museum. I also wanted to explore space and draw specimens for science (such a cool job, scientific artist). Sometimes I just wanted to push buttons and ogle shiny gemstones and minerals.
Now I am there working behind the scenes (doing almost what I hoped). That one day I could do something that incorporated all those professions was fantastically possible to me as a child. As an artist I am inspired daily by those memories and by my current experience at the Museum which provides me with a privileged perspective.
I am lucky enough to work in one of the back of house special areas inside Melbourne Museum (this blows my mind). Melbourne Museum is the flagship of Museums Victoria situated in the beautiful Carlton Gardens just a little north of the city center. It includes two other public venues, The Immigration Museum, located in the city centre, and Scienceworks, with Planetarium, in the inner industrial west (Spotswood). Each are distinct and engaging museums in their own way.
Melbourne Museum holds and exhibits the State’s Collections, Natural Science, Society and Technology and First People’s. Inside you will discover “Bunjilaka” a deeply moving narrative taking the visitor through the story, traditions and culture of Victoria’s First Peoples, the Kulin nation. Check out the eel pond in the Milarri Garden for something special, then wander the winding path explore and understand the importance of the traditional plant species and their use. “The Melbourne Story” covers European settlement from colonisation and, particularly for Melbourne, through subsequent waves of migration events in the 19th and 20th centuries. You can go science and technology wild (there is a “Wild exhibition) exploring the various natural sciences galleries as well as, uniquely, exploring the living breathing “Forest Gallery”. Spot the lizards, bower birds, Tawney frog mouth, fish and insects beneath its canopy. In the western wing of the building there is a devoted children’s place - “The Pauline Gandel Children’s Gallery” - inspiring the imagination and encouraging learning and confidence through play and experience. See if you can resist having a disco on the mirror dance floor yourself. No it’s not weird.
Melbourne Museum sits adjacent to a grand exhibition building which is actually the State Collection’s largest object, The Royal Exhibition Building. It is being lovingly restored and preserved as one of, if not the last, of the Victorian Era Grand Exhibition Buildings. It is still in use as an exhibition space.
Ultimately what is so special about Melbourne Museum, what is so special about the other venues of Museums Victoria, are the collections. It is one of the few museums combining natural science history, cultural and social history, along with living and breathing exhibitions side by side with those where life is “stilled”, or exists in other ways, is a meteorite or mineral alive? Discover for yourself when you get the chance to visit.
Of course if you’d rather see a movie…well, Melbourne Museum has its own IMAX too. The Choc Tops are great.https://museumsvictoria.com.au/