Discovery at the Australian Museum was brought to a whole new level during my week of work experience.
I can’t think of a better way to describe my week of work experience other than as a remarkable and condensed adventure. In a week saturated with activities with passionate staff and volunteers, I stepped behind the curtains to see backstage at the Australian Museum.
I spent a lot of time in the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI). Early morning arrivals let me imagine the exhibitions coming to life just like in Night at the Museum. An afternoon at the DNA labs allowed me to watch the process of extracting DNA. I saw fridges and fridges worth of tissue samples providing invaluable DNA for scientists. After preparing DNA kits, I discovered that through their DNA analysis, scientists are able to identify wildlife activities that may pose a danger not just to people but to the animals themselves. Thus with this research, they are able to institute strategies to prevent species incursions.
I spent a day with Digivol Team, helping digitise and catalogue malacology and entomology specimens. I even got a chance to see the rooms filled with drawers and drawers of flies, butterflies, and beetles. It was my small peek into the museum’s 18.4 million specimen, with a large number being already catalogued. The work of the Digivol team is absolutely essential, improving accessibility to the museum’s specimens, contributing to scientific research.
There was a personalised part of my agenda where I worked with the Materials Conservation team. I visited the Museum’s off-site storage facility and even saw the lower ground storage areas. Seeing artefacts up-close rather than behind the glass brought the museum immersion to a whole new level. It really put into perspective that more than 99% of the artefacts are not on display. With the team, I filled in Conservation Forms, I vacuumed cleaned artefacts and after fangirling over a 4,000 year old Egyptian model boat, I got to look at x-rays of mummified heads and hands. There was a sarcophagus with an actual mummy in the store room!
The last day of my Work Experience left me wishing that it didn’t have to end. I saw another side to the museum, seeing how its research impacts people, and the amount of work put into Exhibitions behind-the-scenes. I walked with the dinosaurs, sailed down the Nile with an Egyptian funeral procession and sarcophagus, and canoed in the waters
of Papua New Guinea. My imagination ran wild on my week of discovery and adventure. I’ll definitely return to the museum more often and volunteer!
Kyra, Work Experience Student (Year 12), May 2017
In 2018, the Australian Museum (AM) will offer work experience opportunities to students in Years 10, 11 and 12. Opportunities will be offered across a variety of AM departments, including areas of the AM focussed on scientific exploration and discovery, as well as ‘behind-the-scenes’ departments such as education, public programming and exhibitions whose work relates to the general running of the AM.
The work experience program opens for applications in March 2018.