My first Jurassic Lounge experience. Wow...

After a normal Tuesday workday, I selected some specimens that I thought might be good for Show & Tell, had a quick early dinner and then joined our resident naturalist Martyn Robinson in what was a very empty and very quiet room (apart from the odd strum from Martyn’s ukulele) in Search and Discover.

I spread out my wares, Martyn and I pinned up some pictures and then we kind of twiddled our thumbs for a few brief minutes before the storm struck. I had even taken a bit of work with me to do in case there were ‘gaps’ in the proceedings, but at the designated 6.30pm starting time, people started coming in and from that moment until about a quarter to ten we did not stop for one minute!

Mandy Reid at Jurassic Lounge
Dr Many Reid at Jurassic Lounge 2013 Image: Matthew Vandeputte
© Australian Museum

People were REALLY interested to talk about and touch our specimens as well as ask all sorts of questions from ‘How do you decide what to name a new species?’ to ‘How do you make calamari rings?’. There was barely a moment to take a sip of wine.

As the night wore on many of the questions were uttered with lots of giggles and silliness. Not only did the visitors want to touch the giant cuttlefish but hold it up to be photographed with it. Boys tried to impress the girls by holding some of these creatures that were equally gross, intriguing and fascinating all at the same time. It was a lot of fun for all of us.

Then as rapidly as the whirlwind of activity had appeared, it suddenly disappeared completely and down the dim corridors I went to put my charges back to bed in our Collections & Research building.

It was such as buzz to see people so excited about things we take for granted behind the scenes at the Museum. People want to touch real specimens and that is where we at the Museum have an edge over the digital environment.

But it was also a two-way street. I learned a lot from our visitors including that the Common Sydney Octopus starts foraging at dusk at Shelley Beach, Manly, and that dried cuttlefish are the Asian equivalent of the Smith's Crisp: moreish, tasty and crunchy.

I am now off to my nearest Asian supermarket!