Tag Archives: museum

Bathurst – Part 3

Also in the main precinct, and the purpose of our visit, was the old Primary School. Its size gave you an idea of how big the town was in the gold rush.

Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum

Now it houses the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum.

Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum

Inside, there was a very beautiful collection of minerals from all over Australia and the world, but I was more interested in fossils. There was an impressive cast of a T-Rex skeleton.

Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum

But this weekend trip was all about marine fossils, particularly trilobites, an animal crossed between a crustacean and a centipede. These were common-place around 400 million years ago, but were wiped out in an extinction event 375 million years ago, possibly when the sea-level changed dramatically and the oxygen content in seawater decreased.

Their fossils are now found all over the world. The most spectacular specimens are from Morocco.

Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum

But Australia also has its fair share. These great specimens are from Kangaroo Island in South Australia.

Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum

Singapore

We had a two night stopover in Singapore on the way home. The heat and humidity was a shock to the system after three months of cold, and also being in a very urban, very crowded environment. Singapore is ultra modern, with skyscrapers dominating the skyline.

Around Singapore

The newer additions to the city was certainly interesting. This is supposed to be a large entertainment and hotel complex.

Around Singapore

There were still traces of colonial Singapore still about, even if they were dwarfed by the new.

Around Singapore

This old bridge in the city centre was built in the 19th Century by Scottish engineers, and had some interesting crossing conditions.

Around Singapore

Around Singapore

But with outside being so hot and humid, the only place to be in the middle of the day was indoors. Not being an avid shopper we tried to find other places to stay cool. We visited the odd museum. This one focused on Asian artifacts.

Around Singapore

Around Singapore

But what I enjoyed most was eating. I really missed while in Europe was the great South East Asian food that’s so available in Sydney. A good laksa can cure any ills.

Around Singapore

Athina – Part 5

Athens is certainly very rich in museums. You can find a museum dedicated to every age in Greek history. Given that I had seen a lot of Ancient Greece, I decided toward the end of my stay to see something more modern, although ‘modern’ is relative here. I’m talking about the Byzantine period, from 500AD onward. It was when Christianity first became the religion of the state, and when glorious pieces of art were first created in support of it. Many of these can be seen at the Byzantine Museum.

Byzantine Museum

As you can see, it has galleries full of beautiful Christian icons from the last 1500 years.

Byzantine Museum

Most have been taken from abandoned churches and monasteries – a good thing since works like this should be preserved, and seen. Unlike in Western Europe, where churches and cathedrals are tourist attractions, Greek Orthodox churches are rarely open to the public outside of worshipping hours, so places like this museum were the only chance I had of seeing these icons while in Greece.

Byzantine Museum

As you can see, the style of these works is, I think, much more intimate than those in the large Cathedrals of the UK. Perhaps it reflects the kind of worship and prayer of the East, where one’s relationship with God throughout history has and always will be a personal thing.

Athina – Part 4

I know I’ve overloaded you all with museums, but you can’t deny that one of the joys of travelling in Europe is the abundance of great museums. Athens certainly has its share, and thank goodness for that, considering its contribution to civilisation.

Today I am taking you to the National Archaeological Museum, which houses the major archaeological finds in Greece. Given Greece’s long history, it has everything from neolithic hand tools to classical sculptures and mountains of gold jewellery. This statue is an archaic depiction of the god Athina (which Athens has been named after), from the archaic period 2700 years ago. As you can see, the style is a bit more simplistic than those found on the Parthenon – not surprising given that Athina was created perhaps 500 years before.

National Archaeological Museum

Similarly, the men were also of the same style. One could picture the artisans honing their skills over the centuries to recreate the human image.

National Archaeological Museum

By the classical age, they were experts. Look at this bronze sculpture of the god Poseidon – exquisite. It almost could have been created yesterday – except that much of the skill to sculpt in such a way has been lost to technology.

National Archaeological Museum

There were room after room of really beautiful sculptures. It’s certainly a treat since Grecian sculptures are rare in Australian museums.

National Archaeological Museum

National Archaeological Museum

Classic sculpture

Then there were the jewellery from the Mycenaean tombs from 3500 years ago. These were excavated from the supposed tomb of Agamemnon (written about extensively by Homer).

National Archaeological Museum

National Archaeological Museum

Whether it was his or not, one thing for sure is that they loved their bling back then, as they do now.

Athina – Part 1

Welcome to Greece, and to Athens! It certainly was a change, coming to almost sultry Athens from cold London. The light, the people, the atmosphere, the history, the food, the traffic; yes, it was all different from the UK.

On the Acropolis

We’ll start off at the top – on top of the most famous landmark in the city, the Acropolis. As you can see from the view above, the Acropolis is a hill on which the ancient temples stood. The most (in)famous of them being the Parthenon.

On the Acropolis

Given that the building is some 2500 years old, it needed a bit of maintenance and restoration.

On the Acropolis

The temple is being pulled apart piece by piece, and then joined back together using laser technology – a costly business considering how many pieces there were left to be joined back together.

On the Acropolis

This is also the scene of some daylight robbery by the British. The Greeks, as you can see, want the stolen friezes back, but as I explained before, the British are having none of it.

On the Acropolis

Consequently, all the friezes still in Athens are now housed in a special museum just down the hill. The New Acropolis Museum has been built so that its dimensions and alignment match the original.

On the Acropolis

From the museum, you can clearly see the Parthenon above.

New Acropolis Museum

And inside are the tablets, all in its original configuration. There were even casts of the British Museum ones – better than nothing.

New Acropolis Museum

The details on the marble were fantastic, considering how old they were. The Roman Empire was some 300 years away, and Britain was just a collection of tribes. Since then it’s housed a mosque and a church, and was almost destroyed in the war between the Ottomans and the Venetians. It must cost billions to restore, but Greece ploughs on. Considering that Plato and Aristotle, foundations of Western Civilisation, walked there, it is not just Greek history they are preserving, but the world’s.

Westminster

Westminster is one of the most iconic areas of London, and one of the most visited.

Westminster

I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed being jostled for the best view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, nor did I go inside Westminster Cathedral (it was a Sunday, and closed for services), but I visit somewhere worth it.

Westminster

Around the corner from the mayhem of Big Ben is the Churchill War Rooms – the basement complex from which was Winston Churchill’s command centre during World War II. It’s now a museum and wonderfully intact. The meeting rooms, communication rooms, bedrooms, and most impressively, the map rooms, where every action in WWII, all across the world, were meticulously tracked.

Westminster

The museum also includes the Churchill Museum, which follows the life of Winston Churchill, from his not-so-humble childhood, his pre-politics career as a Boer War journalist, as well as his political and family life. The exhibits are interactive, but there were also plenty of Churchill’s letters and personal effects to illustrate his colourful life. I do like that the museum placed great emphasis on his writing, especially his war time speeches – how he composed them on his typewriter as he went from one meeting to another, and how they were in stanzas, like a poem. He really was a man of his word.

The Natural History Museum – Part 2

The Natural History Museum is huge, with galleries full of old-school stuffed animals, dinosaur galleries (bones and all), reconstruction of blue whales, as well as enormous displays of minerals, precious gems, and interactive earth sciences exhibits. There were so many galleries in fact that it made my head spin. But given our recent trip to Lyme Regis, and my acquaintance with the story of Mary Anning, it was the marine reptile gallery that I found the most memorable.

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

It’s quite a simple gallery really – a light and airy space, it has mounted on its walls complete fossils of marine dinosaurs. In fact, it houses the actual fossils that Mary Anning found in the cliffs of Lyme Regis, 200 years ago.

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

Here was the head of the first full ichthyosaur fossil that she found with her brother when she was just twelve years old.

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

And above it was another ichthyosaur that she found in Lyme Regis. The details are fascinating – the teeth, the ammonites embedded on to the ichthyosaur, showing that the two very different creatues did co-exist 200 million years ago.

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

I actually got a bit emotional seeing ‘her’ creatures in the most hallowed natural history museum in Britain, knowing how she struggled to make her mark. It goes to show that Mary Anning’s contribution, although not fully acknowledged in her lifetime, is now celebrated.

The Natural History Museum – Part 1

We travelled back to London, and visit the Natural History Museum in Kensington, right across the road from the V&A. Like the V&A and British museums, this museum was also completely free to visit. Both British and Natural History museums were housed in one building in the early 1800’s, but as both collections grew, it became more practical to split the collections, and the natural history component moved to a new building in Kensington.

The main entrance of the museum is impressive enough, dominated by ‘Dippy’ the dinosaur, a replica of a Diplodocus carnegii skeleton.

Main Entrance

And on the main staircase, Charles Darwin looks over proceedings. Some of his research collection is stored at the museum, although he was probably too old to have seen the museum open. These days he’s more likely to see hoards of ankle biters than suited, bearded scientists – predictably, the dinosaur exhibits are very popular with children.

Main Entrance

We’ll delve into my favourite gallery next.

British Museum – Part 6

The British Museum of course has treasures from more than just the Mediterranean, it also has a comprehensive collection from its own land. I liked the collection from Celtic Britain, before the Romans came. The Battersea Shield is from the Bronze Age and was exquisite.

Battersea Shield

The Romans of course had a big part to play in the making of Britain. The mosaic below of a lady is particularly fine.

Roman Mosaic

The peak of Roman Britain was when Emperor Hadrian came to visit. Like the current queen’s Golden Jubilee, one has to commemorate the occasion with something special, in this case, a bronze bust of the emperor himself. Nice moustache.

Emperor Hadrian

That’s the end of the visit. We didn’t even touch treasures from the Near and Far East and beyond, which I’m sure the museum has plenty of. I guess that has to be left for a future visit.

British Museum – Part 5

The jewel in the crown of the British Museum, in my opinion, were the Grecian galleries. I mean, what can you say when you see a whole temple before you?

Greek Galleries

How all of these pieces got here is rather controversial. In the early 19th Century, a certain Lord Elgin (then British Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire) obtained permission from the Ottomans to remove sculptures from the Parthenon and other buildings. The British government later purchased his ‘loot’ and it has been on display at the British Museum ever since.

Greek Galleries

One can’t deny that they are exquisite up close; so beautifully formed, and surprisingly well-preserved.

Greek Galleries

Greek Galleries

The debate on whether Britain should return them has raged ever since. The British have currently refused to give them back, but the British weren’t the only ones who removed pieces from Greece – some other startling pieces of Ancient Greece are also in Paris, Berlin and Munich.

Greek Galleries

Having now seen the rest of the existing Parthenon sculptures in Athens itself (which I will go through when I post about Greece), it was probably good that they went to a museum early on and not been exposed to 20th Century Athens pollution. But having seen what a good job the Greeks have done with the new Acropolis museum, I see no reason why the British (and others who have taken from the Parthenon) can’t return them now. What do you think?