Keynote presentation given at Labcon 2012


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Keynote talk given at Labcon2012 - a conference for Laboratory Technicians. The talk covers science in museum exhibitions, in museum research, and in programs to share museum data.

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  • I work at Museum Victoria in Melbourne. Located in southernmost capital city of the Australian mainland.3 campuses plus world heritage listed Exhibition buildings
  • In the Museum world, the real challenge is in the fact that most of what large museums have in their collections never goes on display. For natural sciences museums the problem is even worse. In a fascinating article in the Taiwan Review (worth reading – see the link on the wiki) the author Chiayi Ho quotes some statistics about the British Museum and the National Palace Museum in Taipei. One of the 6 million visitors to the British Museum each year can, in a single visit to the site see approximately 42,000 objects. Obviously that’s way too many for any person during a single visit. Yet this represents just 0.006 of their collection of 7 million objects. Similarly, the National Palace Museum can only make about 0.7 percent of their collection on display at any one time. Palace Museum website: Museum website:
  • This is also where my reading for you starts to come in with Carl Zimmer’s – ‘the other museum’, an article that featured in Seed Magazine. In that article, Carl Zimmer describes how he slips into the ‘other’ museum when he’s taken away from the public part of the American Museum of Natural History in New York and into the collections. Zimmer, like most of us until we work in a museum, assume that most of what is in the museum is, like a library, on display and available for us to look at. However, museums are not like libraries and most of the time, most of the objects cannot be seen by the public. In reading Zimmer’s article, you may have also followed the link through to Justine Cooper’s slideshow of behind the scenes at the AMNH. If not, let’s run through it. Her images, whilst supposed to be artful and beautiful, well illustrate the ‘other’ museum – the one that’s not on display. The commentary also reminds us that, even though most of the specimens Justine was photographing, were scientific specimens, museums are social spaces as well as a place for scientific pursuit. So I think it’s appropriate to play now, even though the next part of the discussion we’ll come back to is actually about cultural collections. **SWITCH TO INTERNET** Headphones disconnected. Runs for 7 mins 50 secs the first use case I’d like to share with you is about putting cultural heritage materials online because that provides a way for visitors to access, investigate and find out about the collections, even if they cannot see the collections in person. it works here’s where I should play Justine Cooper’s slideshow of behind the scenes at the AMNH.
  • To start to make scientific studies of climate change and its impact on biodiversity, what scientists need is the biggest global dataset they can get. So many museums take part in an international project called GBIF. There are over 200 million specimen data records in GBIF, so if you want to know about the distribution of a species, this is the place to get the data from.
  • What you’re really interested in is information about the *species* not the specimen. At an international scale, there is a project that was also mentioned in the Zimmer article, which is the Encyclopedia of Life. Tagged “a webpage for every species” this project is a mega aggregator of content for every known species.
  • Keynote presentation given at Labcon 2012

    1. 1. Sharing Australia’sScience HeritageDr Elycia WallisManager, Online CollectionsMuseum Victoria@elyw
    2. 2. Introduction The familiar part of museums: exhibitions It’s not what you can see: research Data deluge, local and global Eastern Pygmy Possum Image: David Paul Source: Museum Victoria
    3. 3. Part 1.The familiar part of museums
    4. 4. Australia’s largest public museum organisation550 EFT staff17 million collection items in 20,000m² storage2.5 million visitors / 460,000 education visitors annually6+ million online visitors (Google analytics)
    5. 5. Collections Research Exhibitions Programs
    6. 6. Elephant exhibition at Museum fürNaturkunde, BerlinImage: Ely Wallis
    7. 7. Sue the T. Rex at the Field Museum,ChicagoImage: Ely Wallis
    8. 8. Wild at Melbourne Museum
    9. 9. World Wide Animal Viewers in Wild at Melbourne Museum
    10. 10. World Wide Animal Viewers in Wild at Melbourne Museum
    11. 11. Dynamic Earth at Melbourne Museum
    12. 12. 3-d immersive theatre in Dynamic Earth
    13. 13. Education program: dynamic-earth/
    14. 14. Education program: exhibitions/600-million-years-victoria-evolves/
    15. 15. 600 million years in 60 secondsRead about it: program: education program movie-making kit.Image: Jon AugierSource: Museum Victoria
    16. 16. Social media
    17. 17. Part 2.It’s not what you can see but what you can’t
    18. 18. 42,000 objects on display From a collection of 7 million objectsThat’s 0.006 of their collection Source:
    19. 19. Wet collections atMuseum für NaturkundeImage: Ely Wallis
    20. 20. “The Waiting Room,” from the Saved by Science series by Justine Cooper.Read about it:
    21. 21. Supergiant amphipod caught in the Kermadec Trench off New Zealand. Sources: Photo copyright of Oceanlab, University of Aberdeen, UKRead about it:
    22. 22.
    23. 23. “New” species gather dust on museum shelves for 21 years before being described Ed Yong, November 19, Discover MagazineRead about it:
    24. 24. Grampians Bioscan, November 2012 Parks Victoria and Museum Victoria
    25. 25. Herpetologist and geneticist Jo Sumner with a stumpy tail Invertebrate zoologists Richard Marchant and Ryan Duffy examiningImage: Steve Wright a collection tray Image: Mark Norman Mammal Curator Kevin Rowe with endangered heath mouse Filming a fluorescing scorpion Image: Mark Norman Image: Heath Warwick
    26. 26.
    27. 27. program:
    28. 28. Read about it:
    29. 29. Read about it:
    30. 30.
    31. 31.
    32. 32. about it:
    33. 33. From the Australian Bureau of StatisticsTV watching/listening was found to be the activitywhich took up most peoples leisure time. On adaily basis 87% of Australians watched or listenedto TV for an average of just under 3 hours (179minutes), down slightly from the 1997 figure of 182minutes. This means that in 2006, Australians aged15 years and over spent a total of 42 million hourswatching or listening to TV each day. Read about it: 5CA257968000CB4B2?opendocument
    34. 34. Part 3.The data deluge – local and global
    35. 35. Example screen from collection database
    36. 36. Red kangaroo specimens in Museum Victoria’scollections
    37. 37. Red kangaroo specimens in all Australianmuseums collections
    38. 38. Heat map of Red kangaroo specimens inmuseum collections and including observations
    39. 39.
    40. 40. All museum specimens from OZCAM
    41. 41.
    42. 42.
    43. 43. Atlas of Living Australia concept diagram
    44. 44.
    45. 45.
    46. 46.
    47. 47.
    48. 48. Platypus and echidna specimens in the Natural History Museumcollections in London Wet specimens held at the Natural History Museum in London Images: Ely Wallis
    49. 49.
    50. 50. Image: Joe Coleman Source: Museum VictoriaBook scanning and rarebooks in MV library Image: Jon Augier Source: Museum Victoria
    51. 51.
    52. 52. Atlas of Living Australia concept diagram
    53. 53.
    54. 54. …imagine for a moment that all the diversity of theworld were finally revealed and then described, sayone page to a species. (E.O. Wilson, 1992)
    55. 55. wood-dust-bag-of-circa-1990victoria-melbourne-1948-damaged
    56. 56. Thank-youDr Elycia WallisManager, Online CollectionsMuseum Victoria@elyw