The Melbourne Museum

I haven’t been disappointed by any of Australia’s museums yet. The Melbourne Museum is Australia’s largest and one of the most interesting.

There are 18 permanent exhibitions on various science and history themes such as dinosaurs, marine life, and evolution as well as an indoor forest, a children’s area, and a wonderful gallery on Melbourne’s social and cultural history. There’s a brilliant insect and butterfly collection with many real-life exhibits including ant colonies and spiders.

The Human Body exhibit is fascinating and its section on human reproduction provided us the best giggles of the day. Although there is a sign warning visitors of the explicit nature of the exhibit, which shows nudity, sexual scenes, and birth, I suspect many people don’t read it. Little kids immediately rush to point and touch and yell things such as, “That’s a penis!” to the great embarrassment of their blushing parents. Many of them also sat quietly in front of the screen showing the development of a fetus and, finally, birth. Some parents tried to rush their small children away. Others were nonchalant and one father sat by his little girl and watched the movie with her, talking to her as it went along.

There’s a wonderful temporary exhibit called Top Designs 2012, which showcases Victoria’s exceptional emerging designers in various medias such as photography, fashion, web, product and graphic design, and animation. What I really like about it is that every piece is displayed with its draft book, which shows the student’s process from concept to finish. You get to see the student’s brainstorming ideas, inspiration, experiments, and development. I love seeing the creative process and I think it’s good for people to see how much hard work and discipline goes into creating and how long a project can take. As Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.”

What originally drew me to the Melbourne Museum is its new exhibit, The Wonders of Mesopotamia.  It features over 170 artifacts from the Middle East collection at The British Museum and highlights three great centers of ancient civilization – Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon. As a Pagan, I’m interested in ancient pagan history and culture and I don’t know much about Mesopotamia. It is an excellent exhibit, but it is mostly reliefs, which became a little dull towards the end because it felt like more of the same. It focused mostly on history, kings, and writing. I would have liked to see more on religion. The Mesopotamian pantheon contains more than 2,000 gods and religion was an important part of daily life. Still, Mesopotamia doesn’t get much mainstream attention and this is an excellent introduction to one of the world’s greatest and most important civilizations.

The Melbourne Museum is the largest museum in the Southern Hemisphere. Give yourself plenty of time to visit, like the whole day. There’s a permanent cafe and a temporary one set up for the Mesopotamian exhibit. General admission is $10. The Wonders of Mesopotamia is $24 and includes entry to the rest of the museum.

Have you been to the Melbourne Museum? What’s your favorite exhibit?

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