|To:||'Victoria Quinton' <>|
|From:||"Mules, Michael" <>|
|Date:||Mon, 6 Nov 2000 09:24:37 +1000|
I'm currently working at the Melbourne Museum, as a curator involved with exhibition development in the fields of palaeontology, evolution and ornithology. (In other words, I'm working on the dinosaur and evolution exhibitions, and helping our ornithology curator, Les Christidis, with bird stuff occasionally.) However, the nature of my job is such that I'm finishing up at the end of the year, and going into teaching as a career change.
How did you enjoy your visit to the new museum? I haven't had a chance to catch up with anyone who has been yet, and I'm wondering what people's reactions have been. Do you think you would come back once the natural history exhibits open? (please say yes, it would make me feel so happy : ) ).
Currently, Museum Victoria collects very few bird specimens. As Wim Vader and Allan Morris have said, the vast majority of modern-day skins come from road-kills, window-kills (a surprisingly large amount, from most bird families), cat-kills and the like. When the museum does collect these days, it is with a specific purpose in mind, usually for a combination of taxonomic and genetic studies. All birds collected are done so under strict permit conditions from DNRE. These days, all birds that are brought into the museum's collection are tissue sampled for DNA studies, and then either turned into study skins, exhibition mounts (which are still valid for scientific study), or skeletons.
Museum Victoria is foremost a scientific institution, and an official repository for the state's natural heritage. One very important reason that we keep an extensive collection of dead animals is that they convey a record of the previous distribution of species, dating back to the 19th century. For instance, we have in our collection bustards, collected late last century at Flemington Racecourse, whereas nowadays you'd be lucky to see them south of the Murray River. Continuing collecting means that in another hundred years, this record still exists. Keeping physical remains of the birds, rather than a photographic or written record, is mostly so that studies can be done on population genetics and morphological or genetic changes over time (but as I said before, this type of collecting is now very rare at the museum).
The collection is also used for taxonomic work. While photographs can be useful in aiding identification, the vast majority of taxonomy has been, and continues to be done using museum specimens. Pretty much all of HANZAB - the plates, plumage descriptions and measurement data - was done using the various collections in Australia's museums; Christidis & Boles (1994) was based on genetic and morphological data gleaned from museum collections; Schodde & Mason's Directory of Australian Birds: Passerines was based almost entirely on birds in museum collections.
So I'm not sure what you should answer your daughter. The birds you saw were from the museum's collection, but were arranged as part of an art installation (unless she was asking about the InfoZone birds, in which case they were killed to help us understand and indentify differences between different bird species). Museums kill birds for reasons of research, which can satisfy scientific needs such as taxonomy and systematics, or can be used to aid conservation efforts by identifying at-risk populations effectively (ie. black-eared miners), or by highlighting changes in range and/or habitat. Stuffed birds are also put on display for the purposes of education. By itself, a mount of a bird educates about the identification of that species. Put within some the context of an exhibition, the bird can become a powerful symbol that educates about a particular issue or concept.
Ultimately, killing any animal for anything other than food (and even then), is a selfish act, which can be rationalised, but shouldn't be blindly accepted.
Ph: 8341 7426
I just wondered if any birding-aus list members work there.
My daughter asked 'why did they have to kill all the birds'?
Birding-Aus is on the Web at
Museum Victoria, Australia's International Museum. This e-mail is solely for the named addressee and may be confidential. You should only read, disclose, transmit, copy, distribute, act in reliance on or commercialise the contents if you are authorised to do so. If you are not the intended recipient of this e-mail, please notify by e-mail immediately, or notify the sender and then destroy any copy of this message. Views expressed in this e-mail are those of the individual sender, except where specifically stated to be those of an officer of Museum Victoria. Museum Victoria does not represent, warrant or guarantee that the integrity of this communication has been maintained nor that it is free from errors, virus or interference.
|<Prev in Thread]||Current Thread||[Next in Thread>|
|Previous by Date:||swifts near pambula, John Boyce|
|Next by Date:||Mitchell Park, John Clifton-Everest|
|Previous by Thread:||swifts near pambula, John Boyce|
|Next by Thread:||Mitchell Park, John Clifton-Everest|
|Indexes:||[Date] [Thread] [Top] [All Lists]|
The University of NSW School of Computer and Engineering takes no responsibility for the contents of this archive. It is purely a compilation of material sent by many people to the birding-aus mailing list. It has not been checked for accuracy nor its content verified in any way. If you wish to get material removed from the archive or have other queries about the archive e-mail Andrew Taylor at this address: email@example.com.EDU.AU