Inside the Collection

International Museums Day 2012, behind the scenes

Mark Daly between two devil statues
Mark Daly with Mr and Mrs Devil

How do museums, particularly large museums keep going on a daily basis? What do people in these departments called front of house and security do?
Fellow curator Geoff Barker and I thought we would show a glimpse of some of the hidden workers photographed with their favourite Museum objects.

Mark Daly (pictured above) is a Project and Policy Officer officer for the Museum. he says ” I spend a lot of time gathering information, facts and statistics. I analyse and shape the information about the Museums for specific stakeholders. It could be for Trustees or State Government. This is done through reports and surveys. The main one is the Museum’s Annual Report and internally it’s the weekly e newsletter PowerPoints.

I am constantly amazed by the breadth and quality of what this place does and that it’s all based on human ingenuity”

I love

Dominica Heron in front of Central Station destination board
Dominica Heron in front of Central Station destination board

Dominica Heron pictured above is a customer relations officer. Dom says “I work at the front of house mostly, though my job entails a lot of things: I look after the switchboard, process memberships and look after schools. Every aspect to the job has a customer relations bent to it and every day is different.
I enjoy working with the kids, they are wonderful and always good fun. There was a stage a few years ago when I was stamping kids hands as part of a programme, they would come rushing in, come over and stick their hands on the counter and say stamp, stamp.

There is a fair bit of problem solving and being flexible in the job. I remember when American actress, Gina Davis handed me a 50 dollar note and asked who the woman (Edith Cowan) was on the back. I was mortified that I didn’t know who it was, but made an off the cuff guess and was right. Ms Davis was very sweet and very elegant.

I love the Catalina, the sheer size of it and its lovely history, you look at an object like that and it’s wing span is the size of a blue whale. There is something incredibly romantic about it. The destination board evokes a lot of memories. When I travelled to University in Armidale I would come from the Blue Mountains. I would always be at Central checking the board for the right platform. It was great when the board came to the Museum.”

Rebecca Noonan with the Woodstock Cup
Rebecca Noonan with the Woodstock Cup

Rebecca Noonan (pictured above) is the Foundation Executive. She says “I work for the Powerhouse Foundation, part of the Museum which aims to secure financial support from individual donors. The most surprising part of my job has been discovering the breadth of the collection, which means we can attract a really diverse group of people.

One of the main areas I look after is the Collection Endowment Fund and we hope to reach one million dollars in accumulated funds this year. When people give us donations, the money is invested and only the interest is used to annually fund collection and conservation projects.

Recently the Woodstock cup has been acquired with income from the Collection Endowment Fund and a donation from a really lovely donor who has been a great supporter of our Decorative Arts collection, Professor Ken Cavill. I love the cup, because it’s a beautiful piece of early Australian silver which is really gorgeous and quite rare, as it was made by Priora Brothers jewellers, who didn’t often produce cups and trophies. I also really like the story behind it: a former actress who was really interested in breeding Australian Silky Terriers – a relatively new breed at the time – wanted to encourage the breed in Australia so she commissioned this cup, which was awarded as part of a national competition for the best dog of the breed.

I think that’s the lovely thing about the objects, they are often interesting in themselves and they link into these wonderful stories.”

Malcolm Bryan in front of the Maheno model
Malcolm Bryan in front of the Maheno model

Malcolm Bryan (pictured above) is one of the Museum’s security officers. He says “Our role is to look after objects and staff, we make sure that proper procedures are followed. Security opens the Museum at 6:00 am, we do a daily log of activities as we have cleaners, contractors and visitors.

Every evening we lock down the Museum (unless there is a special function) and our job includes walking through the buildings during the night. It can get spooky, especially down in the basement. I like the North Annex of the Museum. It’s very creepy after hours when its dark and there are noises coming from who knows where. I was doing a walk through there one night and I thought I heard a train noise coming towards me, it just freaked me out. I could hear this train going past. It took me a while to realise it was the ‘Transport Sound and Light Show’ which was meant to be turned off.

I like the model of the Maheno, I like ships and the ocean. I was raised on the sea, I understand the Maheno was a hospital ship during WWII and transferred patients across the Tasman.
I also liked the Lord of the Rings exhibition as it brought back memories of home, as I’m from New Zealand.

2 responses to “International Museums Day 2012, behind the scenes

    • Thanks for your interest in our blog. Sadly I’m not sure where you would find blueprints for building the Maheno. Perhaps try online hobby store first?
      Tilly Boleyn, Curator

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