April Fools Day at the Abbey Museum

The Story Behind April Fool’s Day

April Fool’s History

Everyone enjoys a good joke, (whether practical or otherwise) and April 1st or April Fool’s Day is recognised almost universally as the day on which pranks are played. They may be close to home such as sending your brother to find a can of elbow grease so you can shine your shoes or as widely reported as the BBC Panorama report on 1 April 1957 about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland which had many people asking where they could obtain spaghetti plants themselves.

There are a number of theories about the origin of April 1 being celebrated as April Fool’s Day. The most widely accepted is that it goes back to when the western world adopted the Gregorian calendar in place of the Julian calendar during the 1500s. Under the Julian calendar the year began on March 25; festivals marking the start of the New Year were celebrated on the first day of April as March 25th fell during Holy Week. When the Gregorian calendar was adopted, New Year moved to 1 January. The theory goes …

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New Acquisition Roman Steelyard

New Addition to the Abbey Museum’s Collection

An Unusual Object in our Collection – The Roman Balance

One of the latest additions to our ever-growing collection is an unusual-looking metal device that one has to wonder about. Mind boggling – yes, but in fact this implement has a very practical application. Then, what does it do?  What we have here is a Roman Steelyard, or Roman Balance, dated between the late 2nd and 5th centuries. Although it looks like some sort of torture device, it had a very useful and celebrated function; namely for weighing trade goods.

“Is it some sort of torture device?” – Museum Staff Member.

You might now ask how people used this object.  Our balance is made of iron and features two lead weights that hang from iron bars. The balance would hang from the ceiling by the upper hook and trade goods suspended by the hooks. The large weight would slide up and down the balance bar until the bar became horizontal. The weight would be calculated by how far the weight was across the bar. Chiselled into the bar at …

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Regency Era Fashion Plate

Regency Ball – Recreating the Regency Period.

The Regency Period – a great artistic era or a bad royal joke?

The Regency Period went for nine years, starting in 1811 when a bill passed declaring that King George III was too unfit to rule, naming his 48-year-old son, the future King George IV, as Prince Regent. While the actual regency only lasted until the King’s death  in 1820, the entire Regency Era is generally thought to be from the 1780’s until George IV’s death in 1830. However, the bill was made with reluctance as the Prince Regent was extremely unpopular. He was discouraged from making decisions regarding official governing business and war, so he instead spent all the money from the treasury on things such as balls, fashion, food, and pageants!  People did not view him as the ‘Great King’ they originally had hoped he would be, and by his official coronation in 1821, he had become a symbol for senseless extravagance and a national joke.

Regency, an era of change

But although the Prince Regent was disliked himself, the actual regency was a great period for literature, …

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Hittites

Rediscovering the Lost Empire of the Ancient Hittites

Rediscovering the Lost Empire of the Ancient Hittites

In the 14th and 13th centuries BC, Hatti, the Late Bronze Age Hittites kingdom, held the greatest political and military power in the ancient Near East. And then it vanished! Situated near what is now northern Turkey, about 160 kilometres east of Ankara, its territories stretched from Turkey’s western coast and southwards through Syria to the Damascus borders.  What really happened to this thriving civilisation?

Unraveling the Hittites Mystery

Ongoing archaeological excavations at the 180-hectare site of the capital continue to produce important discoveries.  Archaeologists have recently completed a major rebuilding project in Hattusa and have unearthed previously unknown sites in the kingdom. Over the last 100 years, a civilization lost to us for 2,000 years has dramatically reappeared before us.

The Hittites history and civilization is recorded on thousands of tablets, found mainly in the royal capital but also in many provincial centres of the kingdom. The Hittites language, deciphered during the First World War, revealed itself a member of the Indo-European language family. Therefore, it is related to Sanskrit, …

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Fundraising for Abbey Museum

Santa’s Helpers Fundraising for Museum

“This may be too difficult for you…”  This is often the opening comment by a person who is not sure whether we can wrap a gift for them. Invariably the response is “not too difficult –maybe a challenge”.

In the fortnight leading up to Christmas 2017 volunteers operated the gift wrapping tables outside Target in the Bribie Island shopping centre fundraising for the Abbey Museum. Situated right alongside Santa’s grotto we had a great opportunity to see merchandising in action especially noting which appeared to be the most popular gifts for 2017. Many children lined up to meet Santa and have their photo taken, whether they wanted to or not! Some so tiny they will never remember it…

Fundraising under Wraps

Gift wrapping is a very social occasion and, in the experience of this writer, the vast majority of people are very pleased to offer a donation (in some cases, very generous) to have an onerous task taken off their hands. Most parcels were fairly straight-forward and could be wrapped and decorated with a ribbon or bow in a minute …

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Viking Fun at the Abbey

Did you meet the Viking?

Did you catch up with the Viking horde during the school holidays?

This year the Abbey Museum hosted its Kids Dig It – Viking Family Fun Week for the January School holiday program.  It was an extremely successful and engaging week of fun and activity in and around the Museum. Over 502 visitors enjoyed a full program which included meeting Norm the Viking and hearing all about his tools and viking equipment and also having a photo with him. There were many craft activities such as making a longboat, helmet, shield, mask, naal binding, lucet weaving, viking embroidery and using the viking iron to be enjoyed.

Viking Games afoot

One of the popular activities was dressing up in viking clothes or playing a viking board game called Hnefatafl (try getting your tongue around that one) which is also know as the “The Kings Table”. Another game enjoyed by parents and kids was the lawn chess-type game called Kubb.

 

Of course – the most popular of all activities was the archery and the archaeological dig.

 

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Stained Glass presentation in Abbey Church

Celebrating a Stained Glass Milestone

Invited guests – donors who had supported the program – gathered in the Abbey Church in early December to help celebrate the conclusion of a ten year project of conservation of the stained glass windows in the Church.

Stained Glass Thank You

Director of the Abbey Museum, Edith Cuffe OAM, explained the obstacles which had to be overcome in order for the conservation project to be undertaken, not least of which was the substantial fundraising effort required. The presentation was a ‘thank-you’ and acknowledgement of those who donated or assisted in other ways to raise the funds necessary for the conservation work to take place. Edith introduced guests to Gerry Cummins and Jill Stehn, the conservators who undertook this mammoth task.

Conservator’s stained glass presentation

Gerry’s presentation included a power-point showing before and after photographs of each window as it was subject to the conservator’s attention. He told how the removal of some windows was made very difficult because of the age of the glass and fragility of the …

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Grant to Assist Build of new Joust Arena

Celebrating Festival Funding

There was great cause for celebrations recently at the Abbey Museum when we were advised of the successful applications for not just one but two important funding grants to assist in planning and hosting the Abbey Medieval Festival.

Funding From TEQ

The first, from Tourism and Events Queensland (TEQ) is to support marketing for the Abbey Medieval Festival throughout Queensland and interstate.  TEQ has been a long standing supporter of our Festival and of the region in general and this funding will enable us to:

employ specialised graphic personnel to design engaging graphics and Festival images; employ specialised video personnel to create video clips to promote the Festival online; have a much-needed refresh of the festival website with supporting SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and social media campaigns the funds might also stretch to assist us partially in a new billboard campaign

These funds are vital to help us retain our cutting edge in a busy and competitive tourism environment and to enable us to attract as wide an audience as possible.

Stronger Communities Program Funding

The second, from the …

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The Abbey Museum’s Black Rider

The arrival of the Black Rider

In mid-2016, the Abbey Museum finally fulfilled a long-held dream to acquire a complete medieval suit of armour to complement the existing stories of the Abbey collection of medieval artefacts.  With the support of the Abbey Museum Friends and a private donor a 16th century composite suit of breath-taking and awe-inspiring armour was purchased, painstakingly restored and finally put on display in late 2017. Dubbed the Black Rider, after the original German Schwartz Reiter, this medieval piece of history has become one of the most popular objects in the Museum’s collection.

Respect to the Black Rider

When you first see the Black Rider, you experience a moment of silence, while your eyes take it all in.  One of the most noticeable things about this suit of armour is the extensive damage to parts of the helmet and arms; this is original damage left during its time in the field (the battle field that is!). This observation indeed merits slow contemplation.  Who wore this suit and what happened?

The most striking and obvious damage to …

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Favourite things of the Abbey Museum

These are a few of our favourite things

By Jan Nargar

Most of us know that the Abbey Museum has some special items in their collection – but what do you really know about it and do you have a favourite thing?

Have you ever walked through the museum and a special object has caught your eye?  What was it?  Where did it come from?  What story does it have to tell? As staff, it happens to us all the time! Not to mention the Collection Management Team that meets regularly to research and catalogue the Museum’s artefacts – there has been lots of discusion about favourite objects. Each member of the team has particular favourites. Having so many incredible artefacts in the collection we are spoiled for choice.  So, listed below are a few of our our favourite things!

Guess whose favourite thing?

A tiny Chinese snuff bottle with a painting on the inside!  Truly! A beautiful painting of a crane in a landscape scene delicately painted inside the bottle. It is in Museum Case 26. How was that …

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