Thursday, March 06, 2008

City Museum

I visited Melbourne's City Museum today. I was a bit disappointed. I have seen it all before. I know all about the gold rush, most stuff about early Melbourne. The early days caretaker rooms in the basement were were a bit interesting but clearly not authentic and a mish mash of periods.

I didn't realise in advance, but the newest temporary exhibit is two days away from opening, so I only had to pay $5 rather than $8.50.

A rather flouncy woman who looked awfully like Oz actor Kerry Armstrong greeted me and showed me the areas to head to in the building. She was a new version of the old Como House style guide. She spoke gorgeously, but her clothes and the way they fitted was weird. Hair and makeup were perfect if perhaps a bit heavy.

Downstairs were the vaults where gold used to be stored. Most of them had a video presentation about Melbourne. One interesting vault showed panorama photos of Melbourne in its early days where significant buildings were pointed out.

I started watching a vid upstairs about cable trams in Melbourne and quickly realised I have seen it already on Youtube. I suppose it was better to see on a bigger screen.

In circumstances like this, I look around for something interesting. I noted the windows in the caretaker's area looking outside. At one end of the central basement vault where most exhibits were closed, I saw in a dark and creepy room a light or ventilation shaft to the outside. It looked like a skinny kid could crawl in quite easily.

In summary, I think City Museum is pretty poor and it disturbed me that so many foreign visitors to Australia were paying to see it. Our big museum in Carlton is marvellous, as is Spotswood Science Museum, the Immigration Museum and the Police Museum. Even the State Library temporary exhibits are excellent.


  1. "A rather flouncy woman who looked awfully like Oz actor Kerry Armstrong greeted me and showed me the areas to head to in the building."

    The fire exits, by the sounds of things.

    To be honest, it must be a bit difficult putting together a museum for such a brand spanking new country. There is the aboriginee history, of course...but that seems to be a bit contentious with most of you lot. I don't know'd be like us Brits not wanting to display Roman artefacts because they weren't strictly speaking ours.

    What you need is a good archaeology team to excavate some new stuff for you. Wouldn't cost you much...just the plane fares, food money, beer money, hotel rent and some bottles of suntan lotion. If you want I'll send you a quote. I'm sure we can find something worth digging up from Melbourne's back yard.

  2. Weird, I just got my mail due to being a member of the Museums Victoria and I was thinking of taking the kids to the city museum next school vacation time. Not sure if I want to now. Last time they went was with their dad when I was ill in hospital a few years back. I missed out on an Egyptian Showcase then, something I truly did want to see.

  3. We have plenty of archaeologists here thank you Brian. They have found some extraordinary animal remains as well as aboriginal stuffs. A dig was held in the city a couple of years ago where a building was pulled down. It used to be a brothel area and many artefacts of interest were found.

    Take 'em to Spotswood Cazzie. Time to see the old steam pump operating.

  4. "It used to be a brothel area and many artefacts of interest were found."

    Did any of them still have the names of the politicians involved written on the back?

  5. Long story but they were keeping a lookout for the mace that disappeared from State Parliament, rumoured to have been used in and then left in a brothel. "I call the house to order!"

  6. We recently "did" the City Museum, second visit in umpteen years.
    LOL We saw the ventilation shaft too, thought it was a tad eerie.
    The video/audio presentations in the vaults are ok but sterile and a bit on the lazy side when you think about it - and they've not been changed/updated since it first opened.
    Melb Museum has a smallish display of the finds from that archaeology dig Andrew - shift the Neighbours set to City Museum and give the archaeology a bigger space and viola!

  7. Anonymous2:54 pm

    Where is the city museum? I'm confused now.

  8. It's in the Old Treasury near Parliament Station & Parliament House.

  9. God Jayne, you would have the Brit backpackers flocking in then.

    Reuben, naturally a woman of Jayne's age is quite correct about everything.

  10. Anonymous11:21 am

    I've never heard, seen or been in the City Museum then. By the vibe of this post, this is unlikely to change.

  11. I don't think it has any connection to Victoria'n Museums, Museums Victoria is it.