Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Crystal time at the Australian Museum

The Australian Museum has a new entrance, built in double quick time by its dynamic new director Kim McKay.

Named the 'Crystal Hall' for reasons of both its design and its ability to house the Museum's outstanding collection of crystals, it was opened last week by the Premier of NSW. Interestingly, this is where the entrance was always meant to be, instead of the slightly awkward entrance from College Street, which has been the way in for the last 150 years. And to emphasize this, the Museum has changed its street address to No 1 William Street - neat marketing.

The Australian Museum's new Crystal Hall entrance

The closure of the College Street entrance has allowed the realisation of the original concept for the entrance area, namely as a major gallery. And the result is spectacular, with truly one of the great internal public spaces in Sydney revealed as it was originally intended. For years this space has been a mixture of cafe, shop and entrance way, dominated by the blue whale skeleton to remind visitors this is predominantly a natural history museum.

The blue whale remains but now beneath it is the new 'Wild Planet' exhibition displaying the Museum's taxidermy collection with specimens large and small. My favourite exhibition on this theme is the Paris Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle's 'Gallery of Evolution', which first kicked off the concept of using stuffed animals in an artistic rather than wholly naturalistic way, though I also love the Melbourne Museum's 'Amazing Animals'. 


This is however a beautifully presented exhibition and space helped by two spectacular vault ceilinged glass cases (vitrines for the initiated) made by the doyen of such creations, Goppion of Milan. 

Take a walk on the wild side and enjoy a buzzing museum.

The 'Gallery of Evolution' at the
Paris Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle

Melbourne Museum's 'Amazing Animals'

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