This placement will see me based at the University of Melbourne working with some of their 31 amazing museum collections. I will be undertaking several different projects with these collections to further develop my curatorial and collections managment skills . . . I know I'm going to have lots of fun along the way too!!

Friday, 27 July 2012

Cultural Treasures Festival Fun

It's my last proper day in Melbourne today and I helped out at the Cultural Treasures Festival. It is a big event that so many people have worked really hard to make special. I was positioned in the hub on the University campus helping to run the children's activities. As well as my treasure hunt kids could put together their own jigsaw-rhino (part of the logo for the event) and the lovely ladies from the Calligraphy Society were also making bookmarks with names on. It was great to talk to people and see what their different interests were. The festival is special this year as it also coincides with Melbourne Open House and the Rare Book Fair. I'm helping to man an information stand on one of the University gates tomorrow morning and I am sure there will be lots of 'people traffic'.
I now have to pack-up all my things and get ready to leave. Although I can't wait to see my family back home I am sad to be leaving Melbourne and all the people that I have met here. Everyone has been so lovely and it has been a real pleasure to work and socialise with them. I have learnt so much that I know will be of benefit to me both personally and professionally. More specifically I have learnt a lot about the University Collections here and there are particular processes that I know we can implement to great effect back in Birmingham.
Goodbye Melbourne! You have been a fabulous host city and I will certainly be back in the future. I also want to take this opportunity to thank everyone that I worked with; all those people at the University Cultural Collections, the staff at the Ian Potter Museum and the Grainger Museum, the team at CCMC and the University Archives and also the two previous Melbourne award winners, Emma Neale and Emily Wubben (and Emily's lovely family) - we have the beginnings of a great 'award community'! You were all so welcoming and made a Birmingham girl feel very safe so far away from home. Thank you for everything, it has been a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget.

Children's activites at the Cultural Treasures Festival

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Installing my display

I had my final day with the Print Collection today and had to install my display titled Leaves from the Literary Garden, which will be on the 2nd floor of the Baillieu Library for the Hidden Treasures Festival this coming weekend. I really enjoyed this particular project and, although I have had some experince of organising displays before, I have never worked with this kind of material. I was challenged by the research and planning that went into supporting and displaying such rare books, but I am so pleased with the end result. Learning to create book cradles, an important part of the preparation process, is a great skill that I know will be really useful to me in the future. The display will be part of a tour over the weekend, so I hope that the visitors enjoy it!

Putting the finishing touches to one of my four cases

The introductory case to my botanical book display

With one of my display cases and looking very pleased with myself too!

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Grainger Museum Visit

Today I began my last week here in Melbourne; I finished off my children's treasure hunt this morning, which I looking forward to seeing many families enjoy (I hope!). This afternoon I visited the Grainger Museum, a building I have been walking past almost everyday as it sits right between my apartment and the university campus. I have been itching to go in, but as I knew I had this visit scheduled, I though I would wait and savour the experience. First, I got to see the Grainger Collection's archival material in the Ballieu Library and was then shown around the museum itself. I think the layout of the displays and amount was information was fantastic and it tells the story of Percy Grainger - who I have come to recognise as an ecentric and very talented individual - through his music career and personal life very well. I enjoyed talking to the staff at the Grainger as it gave me a better understanding of how a public facing musuem is run, something I have not had experience of before - any experience of a museum 'behind the scenes' is always exciting for me! The aspect I liked most about this museum and collection was the incorporation of the various objects within their context. For example, a display about Grainger's talent for beadwork, showed one of the items he had made along a photograph of him actually wearing it. I was also told that the archive holds receipts that show what was bought to make the various elements of the object. With my archaeological background I truly understand how important the context of an object is and to see this incorporation first-hand at the Grainger Museum makes this collection a real 'treasure'.

Grainger's beautiful piano shown alongside a couture dress

A small selection of the many musical instrutments on display

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Only 1 week left!

I'm quite sad that I only have one week to go before I head back home. This last week is going to be really busy getting all my projects finished, putting the final touches to things. I had a good end to last week; I went out to the conservation team's comerical building in North Melbourne and was introduced to more conservation techniques. These included making-up archival boxes, mixing colours in preparation for some re-painting of art work, completing a condition report, and I also got to do some conservation a rare volume. This invovled applying heat activated tissue using a hot spatula to strengthen any weaknesses on particular pages. I really enjoyed this hands-on experience and it is definately something that I would like to do more of in the future.
My weekend started on Friday as I met Helen Arnoldi (my overall supervisor here) at the Zoo. We had a lovely day there and afterwards Helen kindly invited me back to her home for dinner. Great food and great company! On Saturday I visited Old Melbourne Gaol, a very spooky place, but with lots of interesting information about crime and punishment in early Melbourne as well as the story of Ned Kelly shown alongside his death mask. To make the most of the lovely sunny weather (not to make you Brits jealous or anything!) I went to the Botanical Gardens in South Melbourne today. I really enjoyed seeing all the different types of trees, flowers and birds that we don't get in Britain and I had a lovely afternoon tea (complete with scone with jam and cream!) by the lake. I'm looking forward to my visit to the Grainger Museum tomorrow and also seeing Emma Neale again this week (a Melbourne winner of this award who I saw in Birmingham in November 2012).

Conserving a rare volume using heat activated tissue

View of the lake at the Botanical Gardens

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

More New Skills!

Looking at rare books for my display

With my first book cradle! Can you tell how proud I am?
I am now more than halfway through my placement here in Melbourne and I am beginning to see the culmination of my projects. I am putting the finishing touches to my children's treasure hunt for the Cultural Treasures Festival (I hope children enjoy it!) and I have almost completed my research on the Egyptian objects in the Classics and Archaeology Collection at the Ian Potter Museum. Today I was working with Kerrianne Stone at the Print Collection; I have completed research on five prints and am now working towards my display of several rare books titled Leaves of the Literary Garden. Kerrianne has been fantastic to work with and was very patient with me today as she introduced to the process of making book cradles. Having no skills in this area prior to today the going was a little slow, but learning to make these book supports (essential for rare and fragile volumes) is a good skill to learn and I am certain that I can implement it in the future. I've really enjoyed organising this display, especially the challenge of working with material that I have very little knowledge of. As a result I have broadend my research skills and had further experience of creating extended panels and object labels. Keep your eye out for pictures of me installing the display next week!

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Phillip Island Fun!

I feel like my weekend started with a visit to the University Archives on Friday. I really enjoyed seeing how things work there as I am not too familiar with archives. I was blown away by how much material they store (around 18km worth!!) and it was great for me to see another side of collections managment; all good experience!
One visit that was on the top of my list of things to do during my stay in Melbourne was to Phillip Island; only about 2 hours south of the city of Melbourne the island is well-known for its fantastic array of wildlife, none more so than the little penguins. I booked a tour and, with 9 other people, had a great day been driven down to the island by our guide. We stopped off along the way at Maru Wildlife Park, Woolamai Beach, and the Nobbies. I was also brave enough to take a helicopter ride over the island! A great experience and the lovely weather meant to views were amazing. Our final stop was at the Penguin Parade to watch the little penguins (the smallest of their kind standing at about 30cms high) come out of the sea at sunset to nest. A truly amazing experience; the build-up to waiting for them to appear and then to see them waddling up the beach right in front of me is something I will never forget; sadly no photographs were allowed during the parade, but it is in the best interests of the penguins. The group I was with were lovely and it was nice to exchange our experiences of Melbourne.

Stunning views of Phillip Island from the air

Feeding a very friendly kangaroo at Maru Wildlife Park
Not common to say but I am really looking forward to work this week! I'm at the stage now where I am really getting into my projects; tomorrow I will be finalising my children's treasure hunt which (I'm hoping!) a lot of families will enjoy during the cultural treasures festival.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Potter project!

Preparing for a day researching objects at the Potter

Looking at the detail on a very handsome Egyptian shabti
I'm really starting to settle into my rountine here in Melbourne. It's now my 2nd week and I'm really enjoying my projects. My Tuesdays are spent working at the Ian Potter Museum of Art (nothing to do with Harry Potter as my Dad mentioned in an email from home!) researching Egyptian objects from their Classics and Archaeology Collection. Working with objects really is my passion and I feel very lucky that the placement organisers and team at the Potter have been so accomodating to my personal interests. They have such a range a collections here that any prospective applicant of the award with a specific area of interest would be welcomed! Although I have an obvious love of objects my other projects (with the Print Collection, conservation work, and organising a children's activity for the upcoming cultural festival weekend) have all developed my skills in the wider scope of museums and collections. I have learnt so much already and I'm only just about halfway through the placement!

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Exploring the city in the sunshine!

View of the south bank

Front of the NGV
Lovely weather for my first weekend here in Melbourne; not too cold and sunny all day without a cloud in the sky! I thought I would explore the city a bit more, so I got a tram into the city centre (after purposely not setting my alarm early so I could finally get rid of the remnants of horrid jetlag!) I took some lovely photos overlooking the Yarra River by Flinders Street Station and then I visited the National Gallery of Victoria to see their current exhibition 'Napoleon: Revolution to Empire'. Having never really had an interest (or every been taught) anything about this area of history before I didn't know whether I would enjoy the exhibition, but I must say it was fantastic! Beautiful artwork shown alongside an array of weaponry, clothing and furniture dating from the 1780's through Napoleon's Empire. The displays were set out really well, with clear labels and text panels telling the chronological story through the French Revolution to Napoleon's final exile and death. I have booked to see another exhibition at Museums Victoria about ancient Mesopotamia and judging by today's visit I'm sure that will be amazing too!

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Who knew work could be such fun?!

Carefully packing the sheets of fabric after removing them from the walls. . .

. . . and having fun as we do so!
 Have now completed a day on each of my projects and cannot believe the week has gone so quickly - time really does fly when you're having fun! I had a fantastic day working with the Print Collection at the University yesterday; I've never worked with anything like that before so it was really enjoyable. Today I was with the conservation team removing some fabric which was lining walls of a room in a building on campus. The team were lovely to work with and very paitent with me as I learnt the ropes. Even in this first few days I have begun to develop my skills, from research to practical handling, and I have met some lovely colleagues along the way. Can't wait to carry on next week!  

Sunday, 1 July 2012

On the other side of the pond

With Emily Wubben during my 'tour of the city'
Finally arrived in Melbourne early on Saturday morning and have almost caught up with the jet lag. I had a lovely tour around the city with a previous Melbourne winner of the award, Emily Wubben, and her mum - they showed me where my projects will be based on the University of Melbourne campus and, very importantly, how to use the city's tram system! /I had an introductory session at Cultural Collections today with Helen Arnoldi, my supervisor, filling me in on who I would be working with and providing me with a timetable. Everything has been really well organised for me and everyone has been so welcoming and friendly - I think I'm going to really enjoy my time here. The city has a fanastic cultural atmosphere with so many galleries, exhibitions and lectures to fill any gaps in my time; I do not think I will get easily bored! I'm off to my first day at the Ian Potter Museum of Art ( tomorrow to begin my project with the Classics Collections . . . cannot wait to see behind the scenes!