Sunday, July 1, 2012

Australian Museum

The Australian Museum is the oldest museum in the country, founded in 1827.  The museum is centrally located... right across the street from my apartment.  Amazingly, I hadn’t actually been until Della and Eric came to visit.  It made the perfect rainy day activity.

The museum specializes in natural history and anthropology and focuses on all things Australian, though not exclusively.  So, if you don’t like to nerd out now and again, you might as well quit reading.  If you’re a nerd like me, read on, and then go visit for yourself (though you probably have already, right?)

We started off downstairs with an impressive collection of skeletons, including a sei whale:

And a man riding a horse:

They also had little tiny animal skeletons like mice and all of the Aussie favourites, but most were behind glass so I didn’t grab any photos.

The mineral section looked completely boring at first glance, but as I started reading the captions, I was quickly pulled in.  The minerals section takes you across Australia to showcase all of the minerals that the country has to offer in geographical sequence.  It also throws in some history about mining towns in the outback.  I’m going to need to plan a road trip out there soon.  There was also a separate room which featured one man’s collection of minerals from Australia and all over the world.  Some of the specimens on display were gorgeous, including this crocoite from Tasmania.

There was a room full of birds and insects – a taxidermist’s heaven.  The room started off with owls – the mascot of our university – so Della and Eric had to pose:

But the excitement sort of sputtered out from there as we realized we were getting short on time and a collection of stuffed birds was probably the least exciting thing on offer.

So, we headed to the dinosaur display.  This photo sort of makes it look like these two dinos were doing something dirty.

But I digress.  The dinosaur exhibit gave a good, brief synopsis of the history of the Earth and the events that brought down the dinosaurs.  It also focused more so on Gondwanaland and how Australia split apart from the other continents.  After that was a section called “Surviving Australia” which featured all manner of creature.  Replicas of giant wombats and other prehistoric marsupials dominated the first part of the exhibit, but it later went into urban dwellers, sea creatures, and all of the other species that survive the tough conditions in Australia.  There was also a section devoted to recently extinct, endangered, and vulnerable species like this one:

The quokka is my favourite Aussie animal, and if anybody threatens its survival, they are going to have to deal with my wrath.  And I can be a bitch with some mean wrath.  Don’t mess with me or my quokkas.

Finally, back on the ground level was a section devoted to Indigenous Australians – both mainland Aboriginal people and the Torres Strait Islanders.

I thought the exhibit was well presented – starting with cultural and some historical items, but then mostly focusing on Aboriginal life post-European settlement and all of the problems that have come with it.  Prominent Aboriginal persons were featured throughout the exhibit, and videos featured indigenous persons sharing their stories.  Some of the stories were extremely heartbreaking, bringing us back to a time when Australians of European descent ripped Aboriginal children from their homes at young ages so they could be raised to fit in with white culture.  Artwork told the story of modern day Aboriginal life with blunt force:

We were rushed through the end of the exhibit as the museum was about to close.  Apparently four hours was insufficient, so make sure you allot at least five or six hours – or a full day if there is a special exhibition on.  The gift shop was already closed on our way out.

I was devastated.

I love gift shops.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Phillip,
    I can see that you enjoy mineral specimens. I do also. I have produced a pictorial catalog of most of my collection and placed it on a website. Have a look. The url is

    Email me on and tell me what you think.


    Matthew Webb