Melbourne’s treasure trove
There are more than 30 cultural collections distributed over the University of Melbourne’s campuses, representing the academic and collecting interests of members of the University community over its 156-year history.
The Collections include millions of documents, rare books, prints, maps, manuscripts, paintings, photographs, costumes, musical scores and instruments, botanical, zoological and anatomical specimens, scientific instruments, teaching models, and artefacts – and more.
As Vice-Chancellor of the University Professor Glyn Davis has said, these collections are used every day by students, staff and the wider community, for teaching and learning, research, knowledge exchange, and simply for enjoyment.
A few of the museum curators have identified some of the exciting experiences awaiting visitors to this year’s Cultural Treasures Day:
■ Kerrianne Stone is curator of prints in the University Library’s Special Collections. She says there are around 8000 prints dating from the Renaissance to modern times, including several Rembrandts. The image (pictured top right) is a Renaissance print of Noah Leaving the Ark, one of several works to be examined in a student talk by Mathieu Lartigau from the Cultural Collections Student Projects Program on ‘The Animal in Print’ at 12.30pm in the Leigh Scott Room of the Baillieu Library.
■ The Henry Forman Atkinson Dental Museum at 720 Swanston Street is named in honour of Professor Emeritus Henry Atkinson, who arrived in Melbourne in the 1950s to take up a Chair in dental prosthetics. He still works with the collection despite retiring as Dean of Dentistry in 1978. The travelling dentist’s instrument roll (pictured above) is a somewhat intimidating sight and Professor Atkinson says patients would have needed to weigh up the pain they may have been experiencing from toothache with the ‘in the chair’ experience. “Obviously the risk of infection from a kit like this would be a distinct possibility, and many patients would probably have preferred the short term pain from treatment versus the effects of the cocaine-based pain management available. It lasted days and was by all accounts a very unpleasant experience.” A special exhibition from the Dental Museum, Cavities, keys and camels: Early dentistry in Victoria is on show in the Baillieu Library first floor exhibition space on the day.
■ Families can join Professor Reynard Eastley (PhD, Stories and Adventures) as, with the help of junior sleuths, he hunts for clues across campus in search of the mysterious secret of the University of Melbourne. Bookings are essential for this event for families (children must be accompanied), with three sessions of 45 minutes at 12.30pm, 2pm and 3.30pm. (Booking: firstname.lastname@example.org)
■ The Medical History Museum contains a fully equipped 19th-century Savory & Moore Pharmacy – by appointment to the Queen and the Prince of Wales – which was shipped from London complete with cabinetry and hundreds of jars and drawers containing herbs and medicines from the 1800s which would have been concocted on site into personalised prescriptions. The permanent exhibition shows the development of microscopy as well as collections of surgical tools. The current exhibition – The Physick Gardener: Aspects of the Apothecary’s World from the Collections of the University of Melbourne – highlights the beautiful drug storage jars and volumes of apothecary’s guides with information on plants used in medicines, and their uses from as far back as the 16th century.
■ Internationally acclaimed, the Consort of Melbourne, conducted by Peter Tregear, with pianists Timothy Young and Anna Carson will present the Cultural Treasures Day finale with a concert of choral music by Percy Grainger – ‘To Rend the Heart with Chords’ at 2.30-3.30pm in Melba Hall, followed by afternoon tea.
More about Cultural Treasures Day:
03 8344 3964