Biology exhibition opens at the Macleay Museum

28 September 2012

After months of hard work, consultation and soul-searching The Meaning of Life exhibition in the Macleay Museum is now open. This exhibition marks the anniversary of the departments of Zoology and Botany's amalgamation into the School of Biological Sciences in 1963.

Fly by Malcolm Ricketts
Fly by Malcolm Ricketts

The exhibition was launched at a cocktail function on September 27th by the Chancellor, Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir. The Head of School, Professor Robyn Overall, thanked all the contributors to the exhibition, in particular the museum curator Jude Philp and the Schools photographer, Malcolm Ricketts. Science journalist and ABC Radio personality, Professor Robyn Williams, also spoke at the launch. He reminisced about the School's co-founder, Professor Charles Birch, and encouraged all biologists to tackle the 'big questions'. The event was attended by biologists, alumni, university heads of schools and deans, as well as our friends from the Australian Museum, the Royal Botanical Gardens and in government.

This exhibition itself employs stunning photography, a world of memorabilia, spectacular butterflies and interactive elements. It invites the public to don a lab coat and look down the microscope and expand their views on the meaning of life through the stories of research in the School of Biological Sciences.

Some of the research highlighted in the exhibition includes; tracking echidnas through the snow in order to study hibernation; understanding the adaptations that frogs and desert mice use to cope with extreme conditions in the Simpson Desert; cane toad evolution through space; injectable plants; the microscopic mapping of the transfer of energy in plants and using demographic approaches to studying fire-ravaged coastland.

Lichen by Malcolm Ricketts
Lichen by Malcolm Ricketts

It was a challenging exercise to decide what to include in the exhibition and exactly what constitutes the 'School of Biological Sciences.' But this process of historical reflection has yielded an exhibition that highlights the serious as well as the silly and social sides of the School. The fun side of work and study is being explored on a pin-board which is slowly being covered by photos of biology alumni, staff and students. So when you visit, bring your own memory to add or just have a giggle at the changing fashions over the last 50 years.

What: The Meaning of Life: 50 years of the School of Biological Sciences

Where:The Macleay Museum, Gosper Lane, off Science Road, Camperdown Campus

When: 28 September until 8 March 2013

Phone: 029036 5253

Opening hours: Monday to Friday 10am to 4.30pm, first Saturday of the month, 12-4pm, closed public holidays

Cost: Free