Last Wednesday, which was a week after I'd returned from Tokyo (actually nine days but who was counting such things?) I cycled into work at Melbourne Museum with a lighter heart because I was going in to meet Koichi Kubo, from the National Museum of Nature and Science in Tokyo. Below, I and my museum colleague Paola Luz after being showered in gifts by Koichi.
I am holding an extremely rare catalogue from Koichi's museum's exhibition of 'Moyashimon' (see my blog entry here), which Noriko Morii managed to track down for me. I am extremely interested in this exhibition, which used a popular manga as a way 'in' for audiences for an exhibition about fungi and mushrooms. Yes, I'm interested in it because it is comics/manga that provided the window through which the visitors saw this science, but even more because it's fiction though which we gain an experience of fact. As someone who makes theatre in a museum, this is a constant theme for me: bluntly, how much can/do/should you lie in the service of the truth? Although, of course, I don't think of fiction as lies any more than I think of facts as the truth.
We walked Koichi through the museum, showed him our so-new-you-can-still-smell-the-taxidermy exhibition WILD and divers other spaces in which functions (weddings, cocktail parties, corporate events) can be held - this is Paola's department. Why? Kubo-san trained as a biologist, but has been in Australia researching the way that Australian museums hire out their spaces for events, particularly after hours. A fact finding mission.
And if you're after facts at Melbourne Museum, you can't escape this one: that really, the entire gigantic place is really just ONE elaborate case for THIS collection item. Phar Lap. Well, his skin, anyway.
Bernard, Koichi and The Lap, Melbourne Museum November 2009. Photo by Paola Luz.
Sayonara, Koichi! Thanks for coming to Melbourne!