Melbourne Museum Turns itself ‘Inside Out’, Displaying Usually Hidden Items

It’s easy to get lost in the maze of hallways and rooms which contain Melbourne Museum’s hidden archive of treasures.

Some of the items in the 17-million-piece collection are so precious, finger print technology is used to open locked doors.

But once you’re in, there’s no telling what you might find.

“The museums are like an iceberg, there’s only the very, very tip ever on display,” Museums Victoria’s chief executive Lynley Marshall said.

“Most of the public never get to see what is stored in this museum, because there’s not more than 1 per cent of the collection on display at any one time.

“So when you get to see all these objects, you have a sense of ‘I wish more people could see more of this’.”

A new exhibition called Inside Out aims to display some of the most special items re-discovered by curators.

Some pieces have never been seen by the public.

A composite of eggs, a Tasmanian tiger, a silver dress and 200 hummingbirds.

Among them:

  • A cabinet of more than 200 taxidermied humming birds collected by famous English ornithologist John Gould.
  • An collection of 13,000 eggs from Australian birds, collected by Henry Luke White.
  • A silver dress designed by Prue Action in 1985.
  • A taxidermied collection of rare birds and other animals.
  • Precious stones which have long been hidden in the geology department.

A taxidermied Tasmanian tiger which was acquired by Hobart Zoo is also going to be put on display.

Steven Sparrey, the manager of the museum’s preparation department, has spent weeks restoring the specimen.

“The actual specimen itself is in quite good condition, and tells a lovely story about how taxidermists would have worked on and prepared these specimens a long time ago,” he said.

A taxidermied collection of rare birds and other animals will go on display.“We haven’t got a huge amount of these specimens as part of our collection, so it’s really important what we do have is in the best possible condition they can be in.The public will be able to see the 350 carefully selected items when the exhibition opens just before Christmas
“You are going to see the most incredible collection of objects,” Ms Marshall said.
“That’s what bringing the behind the scenes out, turning the museum inside out, means for us.
“Bringing those beautiful items out so everyone can see them.”A long corridor of filing cabinets at Melbourne Museum.