I recall as a young minister serving at the Croydon Park – North Campsie Baptist Church in the late 1970s' that during the summer school holidays during the Sydney Festival, and to give some relief to hapless parents, I thought it a good idea to take the primary and high schoolers from the congregation on a cultural trip to the Sydney Museum.
With the parents being involved with the planning, a day was set, a train selected for the trip from Burwood to Sydney's underground Museum Station and off we went for our cultural day with a bunch of perfect young people.
The problem I found was that immediately outside the environs of Museum Railway Station was where the Festival of Sydney's "Children's Fun Section" was located and once the young people saw these they were off like a shot. Unfortunately none of them were locked to me with calf ropes and it took me a good hour to round them all up.
We all sat down together in the park and negotiated an agreement – first we would visit the Museum of Sydney, reduce the time there to 40 minutes, then return to the Children's Fun Section for an hour and then have lunch before heading home on one of the early afternoon trains.
The idea of a day trip to the Museum for school children sounded like a good idea at the time but the reality was that everything kind of went wrong and topsy-turvey. At the same time the parents all thought it was a brilliant things to do to give their youngsters some culture.
The following Sunday it was fascinating to hear back from the parents what their youngsters had said about their 'cultural trip' and I discovered that children told their parents what they knew they wanted to hear. I was a hero, not so much that I took them to a museum, rather that I made such a huge effort to take them to the museum.
Alas, I am a bit of a Museum junkie. I recall visiting the magnificent Great Falls Museum (Montana) and the astonishing paintings of the Indians and the hunting of Bison. Everywhere I go in New Zealand there are amazing Museums. Every now and then a museum news article pops up in the media that draws my attention.
This came from the Bridges of Peace newssheet which in turn came from IAA (www.bridgesforpeace.com) and it was that for the first time, an official Israeli exhibition will be displayed in the world's most visited museum.
The spectacular Lod mosaic that was uncovered in an archaeological excavation by the Israel Antiquities Authority will be on display in the Cour du Sphinx (Sphinx Courtyard) in the Roman wing of the museum between May 23 and August 19.
So far, the mosaic has been shown at five museums in the United States, foremost among them a successful presentation held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and approximately 700,000 visitors have attended the exhibitions in America.
According to the director of the Israel Antiquities Authority, Mr. Shuka Dorfman, "This is a great honor and achievement for the Israel Antiquities Authority and a wonderful opportunity for the millions of visitors to the museum to see the masterpiece from Lod and learn about the archaeology and history of the Land of Israel."
The 1,700-year-old mosaic, one of the most magnificent and largest ever revealed in Israel, was uncovered in the city of Lod in 1996 and covered over again in order to protect it. In 2009, after obtaining the necessary funding to expose it, the Israel Antiquities Authority renewed the archaeological excavation there and removed the mosaic from the site in order to conserve it.
The mosaic constitutes a rare archaeological gem that is extraordinarily well preserved. It measures approximately 180 square meters [70.9 sq. inches] and is composed of colourful carpets that depict in detail mammals, birds, fish, flora, and the sailing and merchant vessels that were used at that time. It is thought the mosaic floor was part of a villa that belonged to a wealthy person in the Roman period.
One other Museum story as the Footplate Padre that may be of interest was the huge steam locomotive at the Smithsonian in Washington DC. I couldn't help notice it was no larger or magnificent than the giant 59 Class (oil burner converted to coal) steam engine I fired in the late 60's on the NSW Government Railways.
Religious museums are part of the tourism trade. In May this year a new museum in London was opened celebrating Methodism. (au.christiantoday.com
We had many international tourists visit Australia's Bush Orchestra in Moruya 1996-2005 on the NSW south coast where visitors walked under a canopy of Ironbarks with the sound of the Bell Minor (Bell Birds) while reading all weather plaques on great evangelicals of history.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at