Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Off to IFLA Conference: 19-23 August 2007, Durban, South Africa (part 9)

My plane touched down in Singapore on Sunday, around 6am. Good thing there was a direct baggage transfer from Durban airport to Singapore. Saved time and effort from collecting and re-checking in the luggage at Johannesburg (but odd that there isn't a direct baggage transfer from Singapore to Durban -- not sure how it all works).

Here are more photos, taken on the same day as the visit to the Durban Central Library.

This is the Durban City Hall. It houses the city's central library, its Natural History Museum, and its Art Gallery. The banner proudly announcing the 120th anniversary of the Natural Science (History) Museum.
durban natural history museum

The view of the main foyer (taken from the landing staircase leading to the next floor). The entrance to the library is on the ground floor.
durban natural history museum - foyer0

The next floor was the Natural History Museum. On the wall of the staircase landing were the heads of a rhino and an elephant. Beneath the rhino's head, the sign says "A museum about the earth, its history, and life on earth, both past and present."
durban natural history museum - foyer1 durban natural history museum - foyer2

A stuffed giraffe awaits at the next level. It's tall (I'm 1.85cm, btw)!
durban natural history museum - foyer3 durban natural history museum - giraffe and me

Into the W. A. Campbell gallery, where the 'Big Five' (and more) awaits:
durban natural history museum - gallery

I immediately noticed a lifelike leopard perched on a branch, poised with its kill, snarling down on the stream of visitors below. The well-placed lights created a dramatic effect, bringing the leopard to life. Beautiful.
durban natural history museum - leopard
Turning to my right, I saw this:
durban natural history museum - baboons

Up close and personal with a rhino...
durban natural history museum - rhino

... and a bull elephant (looks fearsome even when stuffed):
durban natural history museum - elephant

Oops, what's this? A dinosaur (an attraction for the kids, surely):
durban natural history museum - dinosaur

More exhibits:
durban natural history museum - storks durban natural history museum - cheetahs durban natural history museum - vultures durban natural history museum - barracuda durban natural history museum - hyenas

One more level up...
durban natural history museum - roof windows

... to the Art Gallery:
durban natural history museum - art gallery durban natural history museum - art gallery landing

Even the toilets (the male one... I don't know about the Ladies washroom) have a sense of history!
durban natural history museum - urinals

On the urinal, it says "Shanks & Co Ltd. Patentees. Victorian Pottery. Barrhead." (Hmm.. could this company website be the same Barrhead, circa 20th century? Heh.)
durban natural history museum - urinals 2

Check out the hydraulic door auto-closer/ anti-slam mechanism:
durban natural history museum - hydraulic door closer

The Durban Natural History Museum isn't as huge as say, London's Natural History Museum (but that's not a fair comparison) or the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. But it's impressive nonetheless. Lots more exhibits I didn't capture on camera.

It's a good idea to have the library in the same location as places of attraction like the Natural History and Art museums. I saw lots of kids touring the museums and I'm sure they would be dropping by the library after that (when we dropped by the library, it wasn't open for public yet). Bet the kids will be checking out books based on the exhibits they saw.

I can imagine the librarians leveraging on the kids' heightened interest and awareness from the museum exhibits, and making appropriate references when conducting library tours, book talks, instructions on using OPAC, Internet searches etc.

It just occurred to me the Durban Central Library librarians ought to produce some relevant resource guides (i.e. pathfinders) and have them placed at the museums and/ or selected exhibits. Might be a good way to connect the museum-goers to the library collections.

By the same token, why not place some smaller museum exhibits in the library, supplemented with resource guides from the museums?

Think "synergy" instead of "silos".

Here's another thought -- maybe one day, our own National Museum of Singapore would co-opt the Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research to its main premises, where it's a lot more accessible to the public. There's something about natural history that's infinitely more attractive than man-made historical artifacts.

I don't see the National Library physical collection moving back to the National Museum premises though (it used to be). But Digital Collections could be designed and integrated into the museum exhibits.

Maybe some day.

In my lifetime.


[Reference: Part 8]


  1. I'd love to see an arts research library focusing on local ephemera located in the one of our art museums. Damn, I'd love to start one...heh.

  2. Hi! I envy you! you we're able to tour a lot in Durban :)

    I think i'll visit your blog often now, hehehe. thanks for dropping by my blog also


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