Sunday, 10 June 2018

Displays in Canberra

As it was a day of English weather and there were some good exhibitions on in the city we took ourselves off there on Saturday afternoon.  Our first port of call was the National Museum of Australia.

This image shows both the murky weather and a pretty close to full car park.
Why is it that Museum Directors always feel the need to be building new things?  I strongly suspect its because a few of the administrative staff realise they could be let go if they don't keep coming up with things to keep themselves looking busy.
I also think the phrase "an immersive sensory representation" should be a contender for post-modern chunder-phrase of the decade (or possibly century).

Our target exhibition was one devoted to an exhibition about the voyage of Nicholas Baudin.   It was very good.  One of my bugbears about many exhibitions (especially in our National Gallery) is the limited information on the cards.  In this case they had much useful stuff, including this proof that the Japanese reputation - at least in past - for copying extends to rationalisation of acquiring food for scientific purposes.
 In fairness, Baudin's crew were suffering from scurvy and dolphins contain some vitamin C.  Scurvy isn't a big killer in Tokyo!

This was one of my favourite drawing by Leseur.  The lizards come from all the voyage but are painted as though all seen on a single log!
 This next image is apparently a bit controversial as it is unclear whether an indigenous person drew it on the paper or if said indigenee did the traditional business on a rock and a member of Baudin's crew then copied it on to the paper..  Whatever, IMHO the indigenous one has the copyright!
 On the subject of indigenous folk I find it interesting that the modern manifestations thereof are using objects collected by Baudin to work out how to do "traditional" crafts.
 A Jellyfish (Cassiopeia dieuphila).
 There were several comments about the expedition finding 18 new species of Jellyfish - I'm surprised that this is seen as remarkable since (a) it was quite early in the period of exploration and (b) I wouldn't have thought there would have been a great deal of taxonomy of jellyfish in general!

As we emerged from the Baudin exhibition we noted that the adjoining show about Islam was also available for a good price (ie free).
The objects were from a museum at the Vatican and covered quite a few places I have been.  These rugs/hangings were from central Asia.
This is a detail of an embroidered hanging from Bukhara.  It reminded me of one I purchased in Bishkek (under circumstances I can't remember but it was made about 20 years before I got it  - the date is embroidered into my hanging.
I spent some time looking for the Zanzibari doors.  In Stone Town these are about 2m square and very noticeable (except where the owners have sold them to wealthy tourists).  So I was surprised I was having trouble finding them.  Then the staffer I had asked and/or Frances realised they were a miniature: would make a good door for the house of panya kidogo (ie a Zanzibari mouse)!
 Both exhibitions were pretty good.  Being nit-picky a couple of comments:

  • As is usually the case with anything involving paper, lighting levels are very low so it is almost impossible to see what is depicted on some exhibits.  I understand why this is so but it is annoying.
  • In a few places there are audio-visual information points.  Unfortunately, and this is a problem for the NMA generally, the volume is set so as to be audible to someone with 75% hearing loss on the far side of Lake Burley Griffin.  This can be very annoying if looking at one exhibit and suddenly get 200dB about another!.


We then moved to the National Library who had an exhibition about matters from 1968.
 They asked not to take photos so I didn't.  Quite an interesting exhibition although Australia missed out on a lot of the action in Europe and the US.  Probably a good thing.  I was particularly taken with Martin Sharp's album covers and, as Frances said, if they put out a CD of the music they were playing (Beatles, Hendrix etc) we'd have bought a copy!

The final stop was the sculpture garden of the NGA and nearby.  This wasn't to look at the art ...
 .. but to stroll though  and look for some Scaly-breated Lorikeets reported in the area.  Here is our route....
 .. and here is our target: an addition to my ACT list and my year list!


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