Forest Secrets gallery is a refreshing, innovative display in the heart of Melbourne Museum. Designed to represent a unique part of Victoria, it's the 'living core' of the building, and houses all manner of wildlife, from frogs to fish, insects and birds.
More zoo than museum, a stroll through the glass doors on the ground floor takes you into a stylised cool temperate rainforest, complete with fern gully, waterfall, rocks, flowers and trees.
Birds fly around freely, limited only by the mesh canopy that soars over 25 metres high.
Superb fairy wrens flit about, jewel-like blue. A tawny frogmouth sits motionless like a Buddha on a log, its bark-coloured feathers expertly blending in. Tiny red-browed finches hop around on the paths. Satin bowerbirds breed here; in spring, an attendant will show you the bower filled with blue knick-knacks designed to tempt lady bowerbirds.
Native galaxia fish swim in a working model billabong, while skinks bask in the sun and enclosed displays feature gorgeous green frogs and a copperhead snake.
In 2010, a bushfire display was added, featuring artifacts and photos from Black Saturday. It reminds us how our southern forests can so easily be devastated by fire.
Museums and galleries are traditionally housed in buildings with little natural light, to protect the exhibits. But it's been documented that after two hours, a condition called 'museum fatigue' sets in. Forest Secrets was designed to invigorate visitors, giving them a burst of light and fresh air.
With its towering Mountain Ash trees, its birds and running water, this place is one of the most tranquil spots you'll find inside a building, in the heart of a city.
Thanks for the photo of the female Bower Bird, Debbie. My kids always have a great time in the Forest Gallery looking at the blue gifts the male has left out to impress his mate, now we know what she looks like and we can have fun trying to spot her out too.