The first visit of the residency (14 july) is to The National Australian Wildlife Collection (ANWC) where I am welcomed by the Research Director and its Curator, Dr Leo Joseph. We meet in a bright open room displaying framed paintings and drawings (of live specimens), maps and charts.
A quantity of empty boxes, wooden trays and draws have been neatly stacked in anticipation of the ongoing growth of the collection(s). Work is underway around a large central table and and we interrupt the scene of industrious concentration with introductions and an explanations about my visit and the Synapse-CSIRO residency. Before we proceed to the collections themselves the activity underway presents a snapshot of the breadth and nature of the collection.
Delicate speckled birds’ eggs are being systematically collated, labeled and sorted into boxes and nearby more small empty boxes are assembled, an indication of the ongoing task of storing and caring for these fragile specimens. I juggle my pencil, pad and camera noting the references to reflectance spectrophotometry, research on cuckoo eggs, the curious heritage and hobby of egg collecting (oology).
Further around the table a researcher carefully measures the skull of a small mammal animal and he enters its details into a data base for further analysis. Across from him specimens on loan from another collection are being packaged in preparation for sending back. In a small side room another researcher enters (bird) data into his computer …and then I am guided into a connecting room with shelves storing possibly the most ephemeral of collections — sound.