Showing posts with label museum. Show all posts
Showing posts with label museum. Show all posts

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Two Holiday Museums

One thing I'm getting very bad at is going to museums that would make the subject of a good blog post, and then only realising that fact after I've been and not taken any decent photos.

And that's precisely what I did whilst we were on holiday. Twice.

So in this post you get some half-arsed photos of two museums which are worth the effort of visiting if you're  travelling along the NSW/Victoria border.

The first is the Lake Boga Flying Boat Museum, which is near Swan Hill and was the site of Australia's secret flying-boat repair base during WWII. Like a lot of museums of this nature, it's volunteer-run, on a shoestring budget, so the quality of the displays can be a bit iffy at times. There's a lot of random items in display cases, and a feel that the place could do with a little more organisation or curation, but it does the job of showing the work of this installation during the war, and what life was like for the hundreds of men and women stationed there.

They have a model of a Catalina flying-boat, of course ...

... as well as the real thing.

Lake Boga was selected as a base because it is large enough to land flying boats, whilst also being almost circular (thus allowing take-off and landing regardless of wind-direction). Being well inland it was basically safe from Japanese attack. Over 400 planes, Australian, US and Dutch, were repaired or serviced there during the war.

You can even climb up a rickety step-ladder and get a view along the interior of the fuselage.

Next to the main museum is the command bunker, which has some great wartime radio kit on display.

In a series of display cabinets in the foyer is a collection of 1/48th aircraft models bequeathed to the museum. These cover WWI and WWII, and include a complete set of all Spitfire marks. However the highlight for me was the collection of WWI aircraft. I took a few photos for painting reference purposes.

A Morane N

Morane L

Albatros DIII (I think)

Fokker DVIII

Fokker DVIII

A week later we found ourselves further west, in the town of Wentworth, which is where the Murray and Darling rivers meet. The Murray/Darling river system is extensive - the fourth largest in the world, and one of the most navigable - and was key to the opening up of the interior of Australia during the late 19th century. And where you get river you get riverboats. We'd seen the real things in Echuca earlier, but in Wentworth is a small museum run by a man named Rodney Hobbs who builds scale models of Australian riverboats.

There's about 30 in the collection at present, all completely scratchbuilt in roughly 1/32nd scale.

He admits that the accuracy of some of them is suspect; in many cases all he had to work from is a single photograph, newspaper illustration or written description, so some elements of the models are based on conjecture. In other cases, however, he has full plans, or even the actual boat itself.

This is a model of the Pevensey.

The actual boat has been restored and operates out of Echuca, taking tourists up and down the river. We went on it, and it's well worth the trip. The Pevensey starred as the Philadephia in the 1980s TV mini-series 'All The Rivers Run'.

As you can see, along with the models the museum has pictures, newspaper cuttings and all kinds of other ephemera.

I spent a good hour chatting with Rod about riverboats, both Australian (his passion) and those from the US Civil War (my passion). He showed me his workshop, and the model he currently has under construction, although I didn't take any photos there. He uses thin MDF strips for the hull planking, whilst the interiors and superstructure and largely built of balsa. Like any good modeller, he salvages all kinds of crap for future use.

This collection of models is truly worth a visit if you're passing through Wentworth.

A final bonus photo. Wentworth also has a Pioneer Museum, which not only houses artifacts and ephemera from the town's history, but also has a collection of fibre-glass models of some of Australia's extinct megafauna. Particularly impressive is this model of the giant monitor lizard, Megalania. It's a constant source of amazement that these things possibly overlapped with the presence of humans in Australia. It's not something you'd want to encounter, ever.

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Galleries and Galliots

Today Catherine and I went up to Sydney in order to see and exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Entitle 'Rembrandt and the Dutch Golden Age : Masterpieces from the Rijksmuseum', it's a collection of paintings from the main museum on Amsterdam, and illustrates the style of art influenced by the unique Dutch society of the 17th century. The centrepiece is a room devoted to Rembrandt, but this post is about the second room we encountered. This was the view as I came into it.

It covered the influence of Dutch overseas trade, specifically the Dutch East India Company, and it's naval power.

Needless to say I was like a kid in a sweetshop. Behind me is a picture of a Dutch warship in a storm; possibly a wreck off Gibraltar, although that is unclear.

There were about ten paintings in all, plus this - a model of a 1640s 44-gun warship, probably made for a guild or merchant company.

It's exquisite.

Did warships of the period really have all this carving and decoration? Repairs would have been fifty-percent art restoration.

Anyway, I know that some readers of this blog like ships, so I took a few pictures of bits of the paintings for both them and my own personal collection. This first set are from a couple of paintings of Dutch ships off Batavia. In the background you can see the port and castle of Batavia itself.

On the other side of the gallery was this; a painting of the Four Days Battle of 1666 by Willem van de Velde. Pure naval battle painting porn. Just look at the glorious detail!

A couple of ladies were looking at the picture and trying to puzzle out the flags. I couldn't help myself, and they ended up learning more about naval ensigns that I suspect they needed to know.

Anyway, if you want to see more, the exhibition runs until February 18th next year. The rest of it is almost as good as the pictures of ships, so it's well worth the trip.

(The title mentioned 'Galliots' I have no idea if there are any in the pictures.)

Monday, 19 December 2016

100 Objects

This weekend we headed off down to Canberra for a birthday party, and whilst we were there we took the opportunity to see the 'History of the World in 100 Objects' at the National Museum of Australia. This is pretty much what it says; it's one hundred objects and artefacts from the British Museum, collected and grouped to take the visitor through human history across the globe. It starts with the earliest known stone tool and ends with a portable solar panel and lamp.

The chances are that I've seen most of the objects before, having been to the British Museum more than a couple of times. But a lot of them would have been overwhelmed by the other items on display here. This select collection mixed famous items with ones that are probably less well-known.

The exhibition had originally been put on at the British Museum, but some of the objects in the Australian version were different. This was mostly due to some of the original ones being items that the museum would be reluctant to load out elsewhere - the Rosetta Stone, for example. I'm not sure which specific objects were different but frankly it didn't really matter. It was an interesting walk through thousands of years of history, culture and change, and even such things as a counterfeit football shirt had a story to tell.

I took a few photos. I could have photographed every object, but I didn't. Here are some I thought might be of interest to you, the Reader of this blog. Unfortunately in some cases I forgot to photograph the label giving details of what the thing was, so my comments will be somewhat limited.

Let's start with some Assyrian soldiers.

And how about the the head of a statue of Augustus Caesar? This is the one that was looted from Roman Egypt by the Kushites, buried in a trophy horde at Meroe and eventually dug up centuries later in the Sudan.

This is Mithras.

A Sassanian noble hunting.

A jug in the form of a Moche warrior from Peru.

This is a statues of an Aztec spirit. Specifically that of a woman who died in childbirth. Whilst such women were honoured as highly as warriors, their restless spirits had to be placated to prevent them from causing harm in the material world.

The famous Lewis chessmen

Brasses from 16th century Benin, depicting European soldiers

This is a relatively modern artefact - an Afghan war-rug. Made in the 1980s, it shows Afghans fighting the occupying Russians, the latter being depicted as horned demons.

I cannot recommend this exhibition highly enough. I did see a few things written on some of the labels I had issue with (once again someone failed to understand just what Darwin's theory was about), but it was mostly excellently put together, with the context of each object briefly but clearly explained.

But be quick; it's only on until the end of January.

Monday, 28 March 2016


Things We Have In Australia That The Rest Of The World Doesn't Have #73 - The only surviving German WW1 A7V tank in existence.

Meet Mephisto. It is, as I said above, the only surviving WW1 German A7V tank in existence. Normally it lived in Brisbane (which, being in Queensland, is pretty much a foreign country) but at the moment it's making a guest appearance at the National War Memorial in Canberra. I've been trying to organise a trip down to see it for weeks, and today I finally managed it.

 You can read the story of Mephisto HERE, but for those reluctant to click on links, it was basically captured at Villers-Bretonneux on 24 April 1918, and eventually brought to Australia as a war-trophy because, basically, Australians will nick anything that's not nailed down.


The link above has all of the text you need to read about this piece of tank history. Here are pictures. Lots of pictures:

How big is an A7V? The lovely Rachel, looking a bit grumpy, it has to be said, shows you. She is, as you will recall, 5' 8" tall.

You can tell that I found Mephisto ... riveting!

 There is other stuff at the War Memorial. A lot of other stuff. I didn't take pictures of most of it. But here's Lancaster Bomber 'G for George'

And an Italian CV33 tankette.

 And the Me262.

And, finally, a personal favourite - the Me163 Komet.

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