Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Weird & Wonderful – Treasures of the Natural World

Dodo postcard purchased at  Museum shop

Last Wednesday I took advantage of my fully vaccinated state and headed off to Melbourne Museum to see the current major exhibition Treasures of the Natural World, featuring a very odd collection of objects, both big and small, from London’s Natural History Museum.

This was my second attempt to get to the exhibition as I’d previously booked to attend on September 1st, but as whatever number lockdown came into effect on that date, the Museum was closed to visitors and only recently reopened.

As is the case in the new normal. you had to wear a mask and check in via QR Code to prove vaccination status, as only fully vaxxed persons were permitted in the museum.

I got there an hour before my scheduled exhibition entry time, so killed the hour by cruising through the main museum, naturally checking out Pharlap as I usually do when I go the museum, and watched the newsreel of him winning the 1930 Melbourne Cup yet again.

pharlap 1
Pharlap display – horseshoes, saddle photo etc

As previously mentioned. the Treasures of the Natural World were a bizarre collection of curiosities, ranging from skeletons of extinct beasts such as a Moa and Sabre Tooth Tiger…

moa skeleton
Moa skeleton

sabre tooth tiger
Sabre Tooth Tiger skeleton

…to a Cursed Amethyst and a Black Death flea (which you can’t actually see.

cursed amethyst.1 flea

Cursed amethyst

Bubonic plague flea

Charles Darwin was naturally  featured with several items, a first edition of his Origin of the Species,  a page from his notebooks,  his tortoise and sketches of finches from his journal.

origin of the species_first edition
Origin of the Species First Edition

darwins notebookJPG
Page from Darwin’s notebook

darwin's tortoise
Darwin’s Tortoise

Finches illustration from Charles Darwin’s Journey

Palaeontology appears to feature quite a few women, notably Mary Anning and Dorothea Bate who unearthed rare fossils in the 18th Century and early 19th Century.

mary anning  1
Mary Anning information display

mouse goat skull
Mouse goat skull discovered by Dorothea Bate

There were extinct beasts such as this fish


and a giant crab


I was pleased to see a model of a dodo

dodo 2

And a reference to the Famous Piltdown Man fraud

piltdown fraud

piltdown man jawbone
Piltdown Man jawbone

In all it  is a fascinating exhibition if your tastes run to the weird and wonderful.

Various exhibits were accompanied by short films depicting digitally inserted extinct animals in action. For instance there is an impressive film of a Moa stalking through the Museum of Natural History and another of Dodos fighting and socialising.

A final photo is of an ostrich egg purportedly owned by T E Lawrence given to him by Charles Montagu Doughty, English poet, adventurer and explorer.

te lawrence_ostrich egg
Ostrich egg owned by Lawrence of Arabia

te lawrence_egg description

It takes an hour or two to go through the exhibition, depending on how long you linger at the exhibits.

I must admit I enjoyed it quite a bit and highly recommend it  as a curiously interesting and enlightening experience.

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