A few of us had a great opportunity today to undertake a behind the scenes tour at the Western Australian Museum’s Collections and Research Centre in Welshpool along with some of their new staff.
Right off the bat, we have to thank the people involved – Alex and Michael (Earth and Planetary Sciences), Moya and Alice (Anthropology), Sally (Maritime History), Jane (Aquatic Zoology), Terry and Brian (Terrestrial Zoology) and Stephen (History) – thanks heaps for the tours and the wonderful insights into some really amazing objects in the collections.
Favourite parts of the tour for the four of us that went were:
Ryan – The mantis display case Terry showed us – “space rocks were close but they don’t eat heads.” I think this phone camera shot shows why those mantids were so impressive:
Andrew – “I’m more into human stuff, so I liked the anthropology and the history bits the best.”
Mel – “Mmmmmm…the halls and halls of dead animals! Especially the wet ones! Oh…and the bugs….mmmm…loved the bugs…..Oh…and the whale…and the story about the German Jew….and the coat from the British Brigade….oh oh oh…and the Barbie doll with the tan line….and the meteorite….and the fossils in the sandstone….and the emu with the string stitching…and the cool club weapons from Papua New Guinea…mmm…that’s all!” Mel’s enthusiasm was captured quite well by Andrew …
Personally for me I am hard pressed to find a single highlight. A lot of people already know I’m a museum geek at heart, so the chance to actually go for a wander around the collection was something I was really looking forward to. I certainly wasn’t let down by the tour! I think I probably got the best “wow” factor from Stephen’s provenance story of some of the artefacts recently donated to the Museum (usually I’m into the animal sections, but this was just a very powerful story).
I guess the thing I wanted us to take away was just what is done behind the scenes at a Museum. Ryan and I are now working pretty regularly out at the Welshpool (we’ve now got two desks assigned to us!), and I’ve been working with the WA Museum now since 2004. Actually seeing what the curators do on a daily basis – getting to know their business – is something I think is just good business sense.
Anyway, we all had a great time. It’s not often I get to take time to really get to look at the collections – normally I’m just working on the database records. Hopefully we get to repeat this in the near future. If you haven’t been to your local Museum in a while, I really recommend it – and get a behind the scenes tour if you can!
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