Monday, 19 August 2019

Natural History collections tour of QVMAG

Keeping a collection of Tasmanian Flora and Fauna

Natural History collections tour

11am to 1pm
Tuesday 17 September

A rare opportunity to explore the QVMAG Natural Sciences collection, meet the staff responsible for their care and get some tips on starting or maintaining your own collection.

As this networking event is being organised by David Maynard, an AMaGAT Committee Member, I took the opportunity to share some of David's background and passion for his job as Curator of Natural Sciences.

Hello David

When did you first become interested in a career in science?

I first became interested in the aquatic environment as a teenager when I dammed the local creek (as kids do) and found to my surprise all these animals appear in the waterless creek. Don't worry, I quickly released the water and everything survived. But this exposure to life below the water's surface was a formative experience. I quickly became a professional-amateur in freshwater fishes, and this in turn led to me studying fisheries and the marine environment at the Australian Maritime College (AMC).

Did you collect bugs or rocks or shells as a child?

As a child I spent a lot of time outdoors catching frogs and fish or exploring the natural environment. I bought a lot of animals home to keep in Mums terrarium. Mum let a lot of animals go! I spent holidays in Tasmania's central highlands, a very different environment to suburbia. We explored a lot - kicked out of the shack after breakfast and expected back before dark. Insects, reptiles and fish were always being discovered.

You have been working with QVMAG for many years. Do you remember how you felt when you first saw the natural sciences collection?

I have been working at QVMAG for seven years now. I have fond memories of the Museum from my childhood. Later I volunteered (after uni) for a short time. I was FACINATED with the collections. I felt privileged to go into the collections. I felt responsible for the specimens and data. Suddenly, working in the Museum was my priority but I never really expected that the opportunity would arise.

I spent 13 years lecturing at the AMC/UTAS in my specialist area. Near the end of this time I had the opportunity to curate a photographic exhibition of underwater photography. This was a great success and the timing was perfect as the curators position soon became vacant. It was a significant career change. My lack of experience in the curatorial sector has not held me back. If anything I was able to bring fresh eyes, new ideas and passion to the role. I believe that you never stop learning, and I was (and continue) to learn from my peers.

QVMAG has collections of animals, plants, geology and paleontology. Do you have a favourite group? What about a favourite specimen or drawer?

The collections are vast and each time I go through an area I look in a different draw or cabinet. Every time that I think I have a favourite I find something new that rivals it. Amongst the older collection objects are botanical specimens collected by RC Gunn in 1854 - these remind me of the role that I have (this collection needs to last in perpetuity). Or fish and shark mounts that predate 1897. Or megafauna remains that date to 40 000 years ago, when the first Tasmanians entered the landscape - again, the history of the collection is inspiring. In the newer parts of the collections are Papua New Guinea birds of paradise - beautiful representations of the evolutionary process. What I am passionate about now is the contemporary collection of spiders and insects - this is because I have helped to focus the Museums efforts on these groups, and I have helped expand the collections and been able to publish our research. Systematically growing a collection and interpreting it is very rewarding.

Why do you think its important to have such a collection?

Our job is to preserve a physical record of biodiversity through time and across the region. A collection of fauna and flora is like a library. It tells you what lived where and when. It tells stories, like changes in habitat or climate. We can learn a lot about the past, present and forecast the future. Also, on a national scale our collection is one piece of a nationally distributed collection of natural history. This makes our collection important as it both differs and crosses over with many other collections. Together these many collections record Australia's biodiversity.

What are your top three tips for small museums who have a natural sciences collection?
Know what you have (species/core data/provenance/get a database), understand their significance (scientific, historical, cultural) and understand their care and maintenance needs (environmental, appropriate storage, appropriate handling, pest control.

What about your best tip if a small museum would like to start such a collection?

Be very sure that this is something that the museum wants to commit to for the long term.
Understand what is most appropriate for the museum to collect (maybe a particular group, or maybe a cross-section from a particular location).
Understand the legalities of collecting and keeping a collection.
Be able to curate, conserve and house a growing collection well after current staff have moved on (storage area, storage furniture, environment, expertise).
Seek advice, build relationships.

QVMAG is opening the vaults on 17 September. Apart from meeting you who else will be on hand to answer their questions?

Judy Rainbird and Simon Fearn, Collections Officers will be on hand to talk about their areas of expertise and their experiences. We will try to answer all of your questions on the day but we do expect to have homework!

Sounds great David. What a privilege to see this august collection. We can't wait.

Helen (ed.)

RSVP to or 63233798 by 15 September.
Charge: free to members; $10 for non-members. Includes refreshments.

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Tourism summit-member discount

Destination Southern Tasmania (DST) is soon to hold its annual tourism summit and is offering its Member price to AMaGAT Members. If you have been thinking about how to attract tourists to your place we encourage you to consider attending and taking advantage of this generous offer. It will give you some BIG picture thinking.

8.30am to 5.30pm
Tuesday 6 August 2019
Blundstone Arena (Bellerive)
Cost: Members* $245 per person.
Non-members tickets are $275 per person.

Anyone wanting to claim the member prices should select the “member” ticket option giving their AMaGA membership number and the museum they represent.

Who is Destination Southern Tasmania? 

DST is the regional tourism organisation for Tasmania’s southern region. Incorporating 11 Council Partners, Industry Membership and a partnership with Tourism Tasmania, DST is focussed on increasing visitation, increasing yield and increasing regional dispersal. It works within the policy framework set by the Department of State Growth and its suite of initiatives to grow tourism including developing the links between culture and destination appeal.

Check out these two documents:

Why would you attend this summit?

The theme of this year's summit is very much aligned with the essence of museums; both small and large; whether a gallery, museum, history room, historic house or place. The theme is about thinking and talking about connecting: with place, with communities, with stories and with each other. Its rationale feeds into the sustainability of any business or endeavour..."the most successful businesses, and the businesses that will survive hardship are inclusive, collaborative and connected".  Attendance will give you the opportunity to step outside your museum connections into a related and important area of growth.

A great program

The full Summit program can be found here. It offers a diverse and engaging range of practical sessions that can speak to organisations across the state including:

  • Scott Rankin, Creative Director and CEO, Big hART and 2018 Tasmanian Australian of the Year
  • Todd Babiak, CEO, Brand Tasmania
  • Rebecca Summers, Senior Events Producer, Business Chicks
  • Bill Forrester, Co-founder Travability Travel
  • John Fitzgerald, CEO, Tourism Tasmania
  • Bill Lark, Godfather of Tasmanian Whisky
  • Giles Fisher, Freycinet Marine Farm
  • Dewayne Everettsmith, Cultural Awareness Coordinator, Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre
The booking link can be clicked through from here

You may wish to showcase your business through the Partnership Opportunities

The Summit presents an opportunity to showcase your business to the southern Tasmanian tourism industry. DST is looking for partnerships and collaborative opportunities in the form of speaker gifts, session sponsors, accommodation partners, trade displays and more. If you are interested in exploring these opportunities, have a look at its partnership prospectus HERE, email Natalie, or give the office a call on 6223 5650.

Friday, 5 July 2019

NAIDOC Week 7-14 July 2019

Image: Artwork entitled Awaken by Charmaine Mumbulla
Available to be downloaded and coloured in at
NAIDOC Week celebrations are held across Australia each July to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. The week is a great opportunity to participate in a range of activities and to support your local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community.

The theme for NAIDOC Week 2019 is VOICE. TREATY. TRUTH.

Voice. Treaty. Truth. were three key elements to the reforms set out in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. These reforms represent the unified position of First Nations Australians.  The Uluru Statement built on generations of consultation and discussions among Indigenous people on a range of issues and grievances. Consultations about the further reforms necessary to secure and underpin our rights and to ensure they can be exercised and enjoyed by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

It specifically sequenced a set of reforms: first, a First Nations Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution and second, a Makarrata Commission to supervise treaty processes and truth-telling. (Makarrata is a word from the language of the Yolngu people in Arnhem Land. The Yolngu concept of Makarrata captures the idea of two parties coming together after a struggle, healing the divisions of the past. It is about acknowledging that something has been done wrong, and it seeks to make things right.) 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people want their voice to be heard as part of an enhanced role in decision-making in Australia’s democracy. A genuinely shared future.

Events listed for Tasmania 
A panel of inspiring speakers addressing Tasmanian issues of Voice Treaty Truth. 

Hobart Tuesday 9 July from 17:30 to 19:30

Launceston Monday 8 July from 17:30 to 19:30

NAIDOC Flag Raising Morning Tea in Devonport on Monday 8 July from 11am.  Email

2019 is also being celebrated as the United Nations International Year of Indigenous Languages, emphasising that it’s time for Indigenous knowledge to be heard through local voices.

Find out more about the origins and history of NAIDOC Week here. And more about the week itself here.

To note: AMaGAT Cultural Competence Workshop postponed

Due to the unavailability of key people and to complete its consultation process AMaGAT has decided to push the date for this workshop back from the 22 July to later in the year. As this is the first of a series of workshops, we are doing our best to get the purpose, timing, content, and outcomes right for all participants.  For those of you that made a diary date well done! Watch out for the new date/time for the workshop planned for Burnie. 

Drop us a line at if you would like to know more about the workshop or keep watching this blog and our AMaGAT facebook page.

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Our president's reflections on the AMaGA 2019 national conference

Last month I was in Alice Springs for the AMaGA National Conference, and its centrepiece, the launch of the key document First Peoples: A Roadmap for enhancing indigenous engagement in Museums and Galleries.

In many ways the whole conference was an opportunity to learn about and reflect on efforts to enhance indigenous engagement - what speakers from Auckland Museum called ‘indigenising the museum from the inside out’.   And the conference gave an opportunity for many emerging professionals who identified as First Peoples to challenge the leaders in the room to make change rather than just talk about it, and to make cultural safety for indigenous staff and community a priority.

Of course it is easy to think about reasons why, when you get back to your organisation, the change does not happen. Emails mount up, budgets have to be stretched, and there is always the next exhibition to get open. But inertia favours the status quo and with the launch of the Roadmap we now all have a map to guide us. The plan is not a criticism of achievements made so far, but an opportunity to make this work a priority and a guiding framework to help us take the steps along the way.

In Tasmania the AMaGA Committee have had many requests for workshops in enhancing indigenous engagement and cultural competency for museum staff. With the launch of the Roadmap we are making a start, with an event in Burnie on 22 July, and plan to repeat the workshop in other parts of the State over the next few months. So, we’ll be in your area soon.

We can all make a plan, and pick a starting place. I would invite all AMaGA members to download the Roadmap and read it. Then talk to your colleagues, particularly indigenous staff members and volunteers, and listen. Decide on the priorities for you and/or your organisation and attend a workshop near you. I look forward to seeing you there.

Janet Carding
AMaGA Tasmanian Branch

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Smart phone Movie Making Workshop

Hands on training in how to develop and produce low-cost short films that can be used to promote arts and cultural heritage within Tasmania is on offer now.  Here are some more reasons to join us.

There are many pros to using a smartphone to shoot an audio visual project. Smartphones can be:
  • compact, light and so portable-easy to carry
  • clever and so can provide a decent image quality
  • loaded with apps to give you more control over quality
  • added to with accessories such as lenses and camera stabilizers
  • handy-you always have it with you or somewhere close by
You can make a movie about a host of things. 

Your collection

Carolyn Fraser, Exhibitions Curator, Community Programs, State Library Victoria talks about a box of Mercurosal which was a mercury salt that was used in the treatment of syphilis.

Someone who has unique information about your collection

Marilyne Nicholls (Wadi Wadi: Yorta Yorta: Dja Dja Wurrung: Ngarringdjeri: Latji Latji: Yulpagulp: Barrappa Barrappa)  presents Pine Needle Baskets and weaving. By the Koorie Heritage Trust as part of The Canoe Project – Stories from the Collection

Personal stories

One of many stories recorded by the State Library Victoria

Promotion for your town

Part of the campaign to promote the town of Ballarat beyond old and gold. This is called Made of Ballarat: about makers David & Yuge Bromley

Promotion for your museum

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) entry for the Museum Dance Off in 2018-the last of the dance offs

The upcoming workshop will put the skills and experience into your hands to start making your own movies. Rural and regional museum staff and volunteers will be able to script, shoot, edit and upload a short promotional film using technology you already own--your smartphones. With these smarts you can promote yourselves and your treasures.  Being able to make short films can document and promote your museum but also supports you in any collaborations with local tourist operators and groups.  It really isn't that difficult and it is fun.

Join the AMaGATasmania Smart phone Movie Making Workshop
Sat., 6 April 2019
9:00 am – 4:00 pm AEDT
Book now. Press here.

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

'Strange Alchemies: Anaesthesia and Pharmacy then and now' presented by COMA Tasmania

Reproduced courtesy of Pharmacy Times, December 17, 2014 via COMA

‘I can teach you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death...’
Severus Snape in ‘Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone’, J K Rowling.

There’s a bit of magic in how anaesthetists and pharmacists can alter our conscious states and perceptions of pain, and cure so many illnesses. Join COMA (the Collection of Medical Artefacts Tasmania Group) to explore the effects of chemistry on the human mind and body in four talks

Venue: Frances Parsons Building, Jane Franklin Hall, 6 Elboden St. South Hobart.

When: 10.00 a.m.   Saturday 23rd March 2019


10:05-10:25      Dr John Paull
An Unlikely Anaesthetist: Charles Darwin and his interesting use of Chloroform

10:30-10:50      Dr Richard Waldron    
Amazing Advances in Modern Anaesthesia. An overview from a practising anaesthetist 

10:55- 11:25      Morning Tea , Coffee and Tasty Delights

11:30 – 11:50       Mr Ralph Tapping     
Before the dollar and before the Contraceptive Pill.  Life as a chemist in the 1950s and 60s

11:55 -12:15   Prof Greg Peterson  
Modern medicines: a spectrum from the marvellous to the ridiculous.

Cost: $20 per person, $10 for Friends and free for students
Subscription to become a Friend: $30 adults, $20 concession, free for students.
If you are a Friend, and bringing a partner, both are charged at Friends rate.

RSVP: Monday 18th March 2019.  Email or Ph 6210 0100 (Jane Franklin Hall).
Payment can be made at the door (cash only), or our bank account: 
COMA Tas BSB 067 102, Account number 1045 0073  

More about COMA,-tasmania%E2%80%99s-medical-museum  

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Evelyn Ansel talk--a Parley update

Change of plans for the proposed Parley Workshop. You can now hear Evelyn Ansel at a new time and location to that previously advertised. 

Centre for Learning And Discovery, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG) Tuesday February 12 from 10am - 12:30pm. Seating is limited. To book email

About Evelyn Ansel 
Evelyn is a museum professional specialising in preservation and collections with a focus on maritime history and design.

Evelyn has had a colourful career, from working with photogrammetry to document traditional watercraft in Venice to helping with the restoration of the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan at the Mystic Seaport Museum in Massachusetts. She won a Fulbright Fellowship to the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, Sweden and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University. Currently, Evelyn is working between the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, Rhode Island and the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Evelyn is a freelance contributor to WoodenBoat Magazine and a sought-after speaker.