Archive for September, 2010

Museum3 – from network to not-for-profit!

Museums 3 Ning Logo 2010

Post by Associate Professor Angelina Russo.

It’s been just over two and a half years since we established Museum3.0. What started as an idea for connecting cultural professionals online, has grown to a network of over 2500 members and is still going strong!

Earlier this year, the network provider (Ning) announced changes to it’s structure. While these changes didn’t make a huge difference to us (we already paid for premium services) they came at the same time as we were realising that the network was now larger than we could have ever anticipated. With so many members, Lynda Kelly and I put our heads together to try and come up with a structure which would enable the network to grow and give us some entity through which to manage and sustain this growth.

The upshot?
We decided to incorporate as a not-for-profit organisation! This gives us a legal entity through which to advocate, create and develop new knowledge, projects and collaborations. It also means we can do simple things like book venues for conferences!!

With an initial executive board made up of the members of our current research project (Timothy Hart, Melbourne Museum; Sebastian Chan, Powerhouse Museum, Lynda Kelly, Australian Museum and myself, RMIT University) we are currently finalising the constitution so that we can establish ourselves in the next few weeks.

Why now?
To begin with, Museum3 was supported by our current collaborative research project Engaging with Social Media in Museums. This project explored the impact of social media on museum learning and communication. The project supported Lynda and my time to explore the potential of the network. As the project nears its end, neither of us would have a remit through which to maintain the network. By establishing as a not-for-profit, we are able to demonstrate an outcome of the project which, while unexpected, has benefits well beyond the academic papers which were written throughout the three year research program.

What came out of Museum3
Throughout the past 2 1/2 years a number of groups have formed on the network, enabling like-minded professionals to contribute to discussions surrounding the changes in the sector. Additionally, two specialised groups were formed by students to share their research and to create a global network of up and coming museum professionals. We are particularly proud of this outcome and hope to be able to support it further within the new organisation.

What’s next?
Earlier this week we published the ‘objects’ or aims of the organisation which will become part of our constitution. We asked the network for their thoughts and received terrific feedback which has enabled us to hone the objects to meet the needs of our network. It is this type of participation which is of particular interest to me as it demonstrates a dedicated, supportive and critical discourse within which to evolve.

We’re currently trialling the new graphics and establishing new features which will include tiered membership (an issue which we also posted to our network for feedback), our inaugural conference and first AGM (14 – 15 April 2011, Melbourne) and specialist research workspaces.

In the future we want to develop webinars, podcasts and teaching resources.

We’re very excited about these developments and are particularly proud of the thoughtful contributions we have received all the way along.

So, in the next few weeks, this is what we will become:

Museum3 – www.museum3.org

Museum3 is a global network for those interested in the future of museums, galleries, science centres, libraries & archives. It seeks to:

(a) Develop and maintain an engaged, creative and connected community of global cultural institution professionals and advocates; encouraging innovation through knowledge exchange, networking, research, design development and outreach activities.

(b) Provide an environment that promotes the evolutionary development of the cultural institution sector fostering the exchange of innovative online and onsite practices in a critical and supportive space.

(c) Develop positive perceptions by members, visitors and the broader community about the cultural sector’s role in inspirational and sustainable programs of communication, both onsite and online.

(d) Enhance and effectively share knowledge, ideas, skills and innovations about the cultural institution sector (libraries, museums, galleries, archives and broadcasters) by promoting movable cultural heritage.

(e) Provide advocacy and support to the cultural institution sector to develop and maintain partnerships with media, business, government and other cultural services organizations to facilitate cross-fertilisation of ideas, information exchange and joint projects to the benefit of heritage collections and places.

In the meantime, you can find us at www.museum30.ning.com

All thoughts and comments greatly appreciated!


Associate Professor Angelina Russo, PhD
RMIT University
School of Media and Communication
Building 9, Level 2, Room 4

Phone +613 99252753
Email angelina.russo@rmit.edu.au

1

The Quest for Quolls (aka native cat and tiger cat)

Quests are adventures usually with a cause and a redemptive goal and it seemed fitting to term this blogpost as a quest for quolls. CAN received an email recently from Dr David Peacock (Research Officer – NRM Biosecurity Unit Biosecurity SA) asking for help from the Australian collecting community with finding artefacts with quoll fur and historical evidence of quolls. Dave and his colleague Ian Abbott are collecting historical accounts of the “native cat” and “tiger cat”, animals now called quolls, to advance contemporary understanding of these species. They have found that the eastern quoll in particular, now only found in Tasmania, was extremely common and was generally mercilessly persecuted, for reasons such as to prevent their raiding of chicken coops, as well as for the fur trade.

Tiger Quoll | CC-BY | Pierre Pouliquin

Tiger Quoll | CC-BY | Pierre Pouliquin

 

During their searches they have come across numerous accounts of “native cat” and “tiger cat” skin prices; and their skins for sale, being made into “blankets”, “rugs”, “carriage-wraps” and the like, including a 1922 advertisement for children’s coats manufactured at a place in Geelong, Victoria, from The Argus, 6 September 1922. Another example of these accounts is from 1886: ‘… A very handsome and remarkable rug, made from Tasmanian furs, is exhibited by W. A. Gardner, Esq., of Launceston. The centre is of the fur of the native cat, and is surrounded by the fur of the tiger cat and common native cat, with border of opossum’. Tasmania, for one, exported “native cat” and “tiger cat” skins to England as early as 1826, with material sent to Europe for the trade exhibitions as early as 1854, so perhaps such an historical artifact has survived in a European museum?

The Argus, 6 September 1922

The Argus, 6 September 1922


For Dave’s talks on these historical quoll accounts he has wanted an image of one of these “native cat” or “tiger cat” skin coats, blankets, etc. to help people understand (visualise) one of the reasons for the decline and regional extinction of these species. However he has been unable to locate such an image and wants some help from the wider collecting community here in sourcing useful support material and images. Dave and Ian want to know if anyone on CAN have such a “native cat” or “tiger cat” skin rug or blanket image, or one of a pile of quoll skins (such as exist for the koala), or perhaps might know of such an image? They would of course appropriately cite the image. If such an image existed, they strongly advocate that it be added to a heritage collection as it would be a very rare record of what was a very common species and the usage of its fur here in Australia.

With accounts such as “In Western Victoria the stony grassy plains are their great haunt, and every station has a permanent barrel trap, near the slaughter yard, for the sole purpose of catching these animals. I have frequently, after slaughtering a beast, caught as many as twenty of a night in one of these traps” (from 1879), it is a shame they don’t have a photo, or surviving “barrel trap”, as an artefact of the early settlers efforts to tame Australia’s now regionally extinct fauna! Dave and Ian have already used museum specimens, c.f. artefacts in their work. In their recent paper just sent to Australian Journal of Zoology entitled ‘The mongoose in Australia: failed introduction of a biological control agent’, they liaised with the state museums to detail what mongoose were held in their collections. From this they hypothesised that the approximately 1000 mongoose introduced into Australia to control the rabbit plague were probably the Indian Grey Mongoose, as this is the species of which Australia seems to have the most specimens. For this quoll research, originally the purpose was to help justify the reintroduction of quolls to South Australia as a native rabbit predator. Dave and his colleague are so glad of the National Library of Australia’s efforts to digitise old newspapers! With a search word and much time, but inordinately less effort than having to use a microfilm reader and luck with visual scanning, they have sourced many hundreds of records, and with them much insight into Australia’s faunal history. Seeking out collection items (artefacts) have not been a part of their searching, yet they represent an important tangible visual record of Australian history, and somewhat validate the relevant historical accounts they have located in their work.

Just to give you a bit of background on Ian and Dave’s research and how using unique collection materials is key to their work. Ian has also utilised old explorer and surveyor diaries to establish the origin of the feral cat arriving in Australia from 19th century European releases and not Dutch shipwrecks of the 1600s as others have hypothesised. Ian’s original paper, culminating from significant time researching, is ‘Abbott, I. (2002) Origin and spread of the cat, Felis catus, on mainland Australia, with a discussion of the magnitude of its early impact on native fauna. Wildlife Research 29(1), 51-74.’. Dave when writing his PhD he spent weeks in the Battye library in Perth going through reels of microfilm, mainly of The Western Mail, for accounts of wildlife, such as bronzewing pigeons, being poisonous to cats and dogs from their feeding on the 1080 poison-producing Gastrolobium plants. That huge effort should finally be published next month in Australian Zoologist

Dr David Peacock, Biosecurity SA

Dr David Peacock, Biosecurity SA

 

Dave and his colleague Ian would love diary, newspaper or other accounts and artefacts (like rugs, or skins) the Australian collecting community might have, or know of. Dave’s details are below if anyone has quoll related collection material in their collection they’d like to bring to light to help with this research.

 

Postal address: GPO Box 1671 Adelaide SA 5001
Location address: Building 1, Soil & Water Environs, Entry 4, Waite Rd, Urrbrae SA
Phone: 08 8303 9504
Fax: 08 8303 9555
Email: david.peacock@sa.gov.au
Web: www.pir.sa.gov.au/biosecurity

1