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  • Sculpture hide seek and learn

    26th June, 2013


    It’s quite a surprise to see all the sculptures at Questacon uprooted – Ken Cato’s Olympic figures have been there for many years (refurbished in 2006), see them in situ on dominotic’s kencato photostream.



    Questacon Cato sculptures removed

    Something’s missing!


    They must be coming back, because a 2007 Referral of proposed action… said that they would be retained (Department of the Environment and Water Resources, “Sculpture”, p. 10).


    The sculptures have left debossed grave mounds, or giant footprints. It’s probably been a secret government science experiment all these years to see what kind of drawing you can make with tree roots.


    It’s a full circle starting with Magritte’s work, The Labors of Alexander (originally a painting of a tree clutching at an axe, later on he approved for it to be made in bronze, but passed away before full completion so there is still speculation about the works). Now the trees are missing their steel night protectors and gnash their bare roots in anguish.


    Questacon sculptures drawing

    Drawing by the sculpture


    Now for today’s “did you know?”! The name Questacon comes from queste (to seek) and con (study/learn/steering). “Quest-a-con means to seek and to learn.” (Questacon: a guide to the exhibits, 198-, unpaged). See the more recent guide below – astounding!


    Questacon: a guide to the exhibits

    Questacon guide


    It’s interesting to see how the science centre was called The QUESTACON (I think only tourists preface the name with “the” now) which was inspired by the success of the San Francisco’s EXPOLORATORIUM. Mark Oliphant’s forward also said that “…the QUESTACON has become an essential agent preparing people for survival in the age of technology.” (Questacon: a guide to the exhibits, 198-, unpaged). Besides inspiring interest in science careers and discoveries, it could also be an excellent apocalypse bunker. It would benefit from the protective ambience of Olympic sculptures, which send a message that we are fit and ready to defend ourselves. We can also wear awesome lab coats:


    “In particular the Questacon is most pleased to record its gratitute [sic] to: …King Gee: who have donated all the laboratory coats worn by the Questacon Explainers” (Questacon: a guide to the exhibits, 198-, unpaged).


    This was in the time before lab coats were worn in department stores so their authoritative air had been retained. I hope the Olympic sculptures (wherever they may be) are wearing lab coats or something to keep them warm.





    Department of the Environment and Water Resources (March 2007). Referral of proposed action: Humanities and Science Campus: Stage 1 and 2. http://www.nationalcapital.gov.au/downloads/enhancing_and_maintaining/humanities_and_science/EPBCReferral.pdf


    National Science and Technology Centre (Australia). & Australian National University.  (1984).  Questacon : a guide to the exhibits.  [Canberra] :  Australian National University


    National Science and Technology Centre (Australia). & Australian National University. & Shell Australia Limited.  (2006).  The Shell Questacon Science Circus : taking science around Australia.  [Canberra :  Questacon – National Science and Technology Centre].


    National Science and Technology Centre (Australia). & Australia. Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research.  (2011).  Questacon : outdoor exhibits.  [Canberra :  Questacon].


    Questacon : a guide to the exhibits, Australian National University  [Canberra : s.n., 198-]



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