The Melbourne Museum is a natural and cultural history museum. It’s the fun museum. It’s the one with dinosaurs and bugs and lots of kids.
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. Its section on human reproduction provided the best giggles of the day. 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 rush to point and touch and hilariously yell things like, “That’s a penis!” Blushing parents shush them and quickly leave the exhibit. But some children sat in front of the screen showing the development of a fetus and, finally, birth. They were curious and fascinated. I spotted one father watching the film with his little girl and 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. 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 artefacts from the Middle East collection at The British Museum and highlights three great centres of ancient civilisation – Sumer, Assyria, and Babylon. As a Pagan, I’m interested in ancient pagan history and cultures. It is an excellent exhibit, but it is mostly reliefs, and it felt repetitive after a while. 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 civilisations.
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 also 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. For more information, visit their website here.