Blog

Lily Day at the Museum

By: Dr Stan Florek, Category: Science, Date: 27 Nov 2014

A week of learning and discovery.

Lily Day in the Collection Stroe

Lily Day in the Collection Stroe
Photographer: Stan Florek © Australian Museum

In the last week of November 2014 Anthropology Collections hosted Lily Day - a work experience student.

In the past few decades we have had the pleasure of working with many students under the Work Experience Programme, all from urban schools in the greater Sydney area. Lily, however, is from the heart of rural Australia. She grew up and worked on the family farm a few hours’ drive from Wagga, Griffith and Temora.

Lily had chosen the Australian Museum for her work experience because of her strong interest in human evolution and anthropology. We hope that a week’s work at the Museum will inspire her and help her with finding her way into further studies, including scientific exploration of humans’ past and finding her chosen career path.

We value Lily’s comments and perceptive observations of the Museum’s work, both the general public aspect and the inner workings, as a rare voice from our country colleagues – geographically distant and frequently overlooked.

I came to the Australian Museum for a week to learn about Anthropology, Archaeology and Archiving. Growing up on a farm, I have never been able to go to places to learn about the practical side of working in a museum, dealing with collections and archiving objects before this opportunity arose. So Year 9 Work experience was a great way to learn about these things and to help plan my future career.

Behind the scenes there is so much work to do to keep the place in order, photograph and organise artefacts to be placed on the website, do research on artefacts to be able to put them on display, and many other things. I have enjoyed studying mummies and related artefacts, as well as other items from the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures; from the Pacific and other world cultures.

I became interested in the ‘human condition’ when I was nine years old, when I became an atheist. I read about evolution, including ‘Human Instinct’ - a book by Robert Winston, which reinforced my interest in evolution and human biology when I was about eleven. I wanted to know what drove Homo sapiens to expand into such amazing and diverse civilisations, cultures and religions.

I have been fascinated by the diverse beliefs and creation stories that can be found in almost every culture. Everywhere you go there are spiritual beliefs, connections with traditional lands, ancestors, ideas of afterlife and related ceremonies. I am fascinated by the Dreamtime and the Mexican Day of the Dead, for example.

Coming to the Australian Museum has been a great experience. I have learnt about a whole new world, met some great new people, and seen some amazing masks, sculpture, pottery and mummies. I have learnt how the daily work of collection staff, archaeologists and anthropologist is done. I helped with photography, research and writing. I had an amazing time at the Museum.

Thank you to all those who made this experience possible.