As one of the most important and expansive science museums in the world, the Natural History Museum of London, is a behemoth of culture spanning roughly 80 million items across five different collections. It’s a shame then, that the museum has been closed – for obvious, COVID-19 related reasons – for the last year, having to stave off visitors who would usually travel from all corners of the globe just to immerse themselves in the substantial collection. So what’s the next best thing? That would be the long-gestating Treasures of the Natural World exhibition, finally opening at Melbourne Museum this year.
From Saturday 12th June, London’s Natural History Museum will loan over 200 objects to Melbourne Museum in order for them to stage this ambitious and exploratory collection. Sure, it’s nowhere near the 80 million figure mentioned above, but it’s an important milestone for Australian museums, marking the first time the prestigious London institution has lent a collection to any facility down under.
The exclusive loan was organised and curated entirely online, with digital communication between the two museums the only way to organise such a large-scale operation in the current climate. You may already be aware that they were supposed to lock in the loan last year, but the exhibition was unsurprisingly pushed back due to the lockdowns.
Each of the objects to be displayed at Melbourne Museum reflects, recalls and provides insight to humankinds’ collective understanding of the natural world, each playing a pivotal role in evolving ideas and concepts. While the full collection is best kept as a surprise, anyone heading along can expect to see items that inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, alongside the bones of a wooly mammoth, a 400,000 year old hand axe, and more.
It’s unconfirmed whether or not the incredible 25 metre long blue whale skeleton that serve’s as the London Natural History Museum’s main attraction will make its way down with the other loaned items. Although given it’s quite the spectacle, and is massive in scale, it’s unlikely we’ll be seeing it at Melbourne Museum.
Melbourne Museum will be displaying some of their own collection alongside, aligned with the idea of Treasures of the Natural World by focusing on Australia and showcasing the deep connection to the natural world shared by First Nations people.
If you consider yourself a science, culture and/or history buff, then the $29 Treasures of the Natural World exhibition at Melbourne Museum is going to be hard to pass by. Lucky it’ll run all year, with a proposed end date of 16th January 2022.