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Brett Hendey

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Blog Comments posted by Brett Hendey

  1. This is the first time I have ventured onto a blog.   Blogs have hitherto been something of a mystery to me, much as 'Blackberry' and 'Blue Tooth" were until my aged brain worked out their identity and function.  (I did not what to ask anyone.  The youngsters  already think I should be euthanased and I did not want to add to their case.)

    I was tempted to join in by Michael's comments on the ROM.  I grew up in South Africa, a nerdy kid who collected things.  As a teenager I even had a 'museum' in my bedroom.  It was more or less inevitable that, after university and a brief spell as a field geologist, I should end up working in a museum.  Forty years later I retired, a lot older and, hopefully, a little wiser.  For the first 20 years of my museum career I was happy with the status quo.  I was a palaeontologist content to do fieldwork and research, mainly on a particularly rich and interesting fossil site, which also attracted the interest of palaeontologists from elsewhere in the world.  Most of my colleagues then did in fact live in other countries, and, depending on funding, only visited South Africa from time to time.  Otherwise we corresponded by what is now known as snail mail.  It was my foreign colleagues who first alerted me to the fact that, in a changing world, museums too had to change.  One of these colleagues was from the University of Toronto and he arranged a free subscription of the ROM's magazine, Rotunda, for our library.  It was an eye-opener for me, and made me realise that our museum was in danger of becoming irrelevant in what was then a rapidly changing South Africa.

    Although I was still employed as a research scientist, I spent less time in the field and studying fossils back at the museum, and more time with staff of the museum's then antiquated education service.  The museum's administration probably disapproved of my interfering in matters not covered in my job description, so, to avoid impending conflict, I moved to another city to become Director of a much smaller museum.  Being the boss of the whole operation at last, I could make the changes in museum affairs that I thought were necessary.  Fortunately, the Board of Trustees were understanding and helpful.  I hope that I did make a positive difference to the museum in the 15 years I spent there.  It had certainly changed.

    Since I retired, I have applied some of the experience I gained over the years to indulge in a childhood interest, the military history of the province where I was born and raised, and to which I returned in my later years.  I have been fortunate in my life.  Firstly, there were diamond-bearing deposits to explore, then fossils to collect and study, followed by a museum to change, and finally a province with a fairly blood-soaked history to keep my aging brain active.

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