February 14, 2010

A half hour at the museum

It is curious--curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare.- Mark Twain in Eruption

I went through the Queensland Museum today. It seemed that I should at least make some effort to view it before I start writing – as well as on the off chance that anything had changed. I was surprised to see a new, fully mounted exhibit just past the gift shop. I was disappointed to see that it was virtually another natural history display – a display about a man and his passion for moths and butterflies. The exhibit itself is not bad but I do not need to critique it.

The dinosaur casts of T-Rex and company have been returned. I remember my fascination with them as a child.

Everything else on this level remains unchanged, though there is a small photographic display of Queenslands flora.

Upstairs on level 3, Museum Zoo still has strong attendance. Today I saw primarily children and a large group of Asian tourists.

On the opposite end of the floor is a space I call now, the “curiosities pavilion”. It holds a range of things – from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander material culture – to XXXX beer mugs – to Victorian crockery. Each item has a label to tell year of creation and acquisition but not every item has a detailed card regarding history. There is no explanation on most objects as to why they are important.

I find it ironic that this section was close for a period of refurbishment and yet it appears the only change made is to the positions of the cabinets themselves.

On level 4, there is evidence further of little change occurring. Dandirri Maiwar was empty. I would need to check the opening time of the museum to say further on this.

The open storage theme has been extended – now with what I can only call a “quasi” formal display. One area has hardly changed and the other new section really gives the impression of “oh crap – we need to do something” and this is the best that was created. For what is available to be seen in this new area, there really does appear to be little thought given as well as needed. I have seen University of Queensland undergrads create better displays. The added touch of Dell computer boxes is amusing. It really does show how many challenges the museum faces regarding storage, if they cannot keep these boxes backstage.

Also on level 4 is a display about the great rail journeys of Australia. There were two people here.

In all, I think I spent about a half hour in the museum. I did not feel the need to stay longer – I was surprised at how little the facility moved me.

QM at the moment really is moving towards being a natural history museum. I find this to be a really sad turn of events.

In my readings on inclusion and exclusion I’m coming to conclusions that I do not want to draw. I am finding myself leaning towards saying the museum is based solely on exclusionary principles. But at least by excluding all cultural groups the museum is excelling at being all-inclusive.

1 comment:

  1. When I was little I thought that museum was massive. I visited it last year and it wasn't as big as I thought!