Talk Nerdy to Me

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While travelling to the destination (Melbourne Museum) of, yet another, solo Sunday exploration, I cut through the Carlton Gardens, home of the immaculate Royal Exhibition Building.  The Building hosts many events throughout the year, including but not limited to:  university exams (BOO!), bridal expos, design fairs, and car shows.  It can be toured (a fact I was unaware of until after planning my day) and you can bet it will be toured, so stay tuned…

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The Darwin (#mancrusheveryday) to DNA exhibit is only a small portion of the Melbourne Museum which is home to approximately six permanent galleries, each comprised of up to five sub-galleries, three changing galleries, an IMAX theater, and an amphitheater.  The Melbourne Museum is equivalent to the Museum of Natural History in NYC, although, I’m convinced its number of specimens trumps New York’s…easily.

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I have never seen as many nor as perfectly preserved insect specimens as I did in the Bugs Alive! exhibit.  The exhibit had displays of beetles, butterflies, spiders, ants, and more displayed in shadow boxes standing well over two meters tall.  It was an entomologist’s dream come true, to say the least.

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While there were no aquariums housing live marine fauna, the preserved animals found in jars and tanks around the Marine Life exhibit offered easier observation of past and present species.  Museum guests could approach and get an up-close-and-personal view of a giant squid, Australia’s infamous blue-ringed octopus, a blobfish, and dragon kin (seahorses and pipefishes).  My marine biology-loving nerd flourished in this particular section, as I was able to see anglers and other deep sea species that are typically not present in other museums or aquariums.

“Try not to have a good time…this is supposed to be educational.” –Charles M. Schultz

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The Melbourne Museum caters to the entomologists, marine biologists, environmentalists, and Norman Bates’s of the world.  The Wild exhibit is floor to ceiling, 270-degrees taxidermy heaven.  Everything from birds to monkeys to large felines to rhinoceroses (well rhinoceros, but yes, there is one!).  It is quite possibly the coolest, most disturbing exhibit I have ever experienced.  The Museum has placed several touch screen monitors around the exhibit, on which guests can select animals from an identical image of the wall, and the image of the animal of interest will enlarge with both the scientific and common names.

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The Mind and Body Gallery included a look into the anatomy and physiology of the human body, as well as the workings of the human mind.  Among other things, interactive exhibits exemplify how the brain varies between mentally healthy and unhealthy individuals, how the brain works to memorize and analyze inputs, and how generations have contributed to the ability to study such instances.

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It would not be a trip to the Melbourne Museum without a tribute to the aforementioned city.  The Melbourne Gallery gives a brief history lesson from the 1890’s to present-day.  More than 1200 collection objects tell the Melbourne Story, including artifacts from the first derby days, Cole’s Book Arcade, and, Australian hard rock band, AC/DC.

xo

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Never Judge a Book by its Movie

Another Sunday morning of solo-exploring led me to the State Library of Victoria, one of the first three public libraries in the world.  The State Library was established in 1854 and is comprised of several reading rooms and galleries housing books, magazines, historical archives and artifacts, and artwork.

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The La Trobe Reading Room is situated under the largest dome of its kind.  The room spans 35 m (115 ft) in height and diameter with enough space for over one million books and 600 readers.

Along the perimeter of the dome, on levels five and six, were exhibits.  The first exhibit was a walk through Victoria’s history; it contained artifacts and historic information pertaining to the establishment of the English colony, the infamous Ned Kelly, ANZAC involvement in WWII, and the first Australian made car.

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The newly formed Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was sent to the Gallipoli peninsula in April 1915 to assist in the demise of Turkish troops.  Although the campaign was a failure, ANZAC endured primitive conditions and plagues (lice and dysentery), earning their countries’ respects.  Alongside propaganda, the courage, ingenuity, and self-sacrifice to withstand such terrible conditions aided in the recruitment of new soldiers who would step on the battlefield during WWII.

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Holden was a saddlery manufacturer founded by James Alexander Holden in 1856, until Edward Holden converted the company into the automotive field in 1908.  In 1919, they began specializing in completely Australian made car bodies before being subsidized in 1931 by U.S.-based General Motors.

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The second exhibit displayed many works (writings, paintings, sketches) regarding natural history.  Joannes Jonstonus was a Polish natural historian and physician whose goal was “to make young men delight in natural history” by illustrating real and imaginary sea creatures in his notes.  Francois Le Vaillant was a French explorer and ornithologist.  Unfortunately, he was not credited for many of his ornithological discoveries because he preferred to use his own descriptive names, rather than the standard Linnean nomenclature.

[ATTENTION:  If you do not know what Linnean nomenclature is, do not ask me, as my biology-loving heart will shatter into a million pieces.  I suggest you do a quick Google search and educate yourself.  That is all.]

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A stereograph is formed by posting two images, taken from slightly different perspectives, next to each other on a cardboard mount.  When viewed through a stereoscope, they create a three-dimensional single image.  There is a large collection of stereographs at the State Library, most of which depicting the interior architecture of the Library, as well as its galleries and exhibits.

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After wandering the Library for three hours (and I am still convinced I missed things), I met with a friend to attend the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF).  I am no film critic, but when in Melbs, right?  We viewed a compilation of shorts directed by aspiring Australian and New Zealand filmmakers.  Prior to the viewing, each director gave a short speech thanking their cast, crews, and family–a practice run for their potential Oscar-winning speeches.  That’s right; some of the shorts are being considered for 2016 Oscar nominations.  How cool!  While there were a couple shorts that I did not quite understand, others were great and took a new or different approach than anything I had seen before (again, personal preference, not a film critic).  Just another thing I can say I did while on my Australian adventure.

xo