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Flying visit to the Australian Museum

Last Updated: 17th Nov 2017

By Keith Compton

Flying visit to the Australian Museum, Sydney

On 30 January 2015 I had the opportunity to make a brief visit to the Australian Museum in College Street, Sydney. I often visited the museum when I lived in Sydney but hadn't been to the museum in over 7 years.

I had limited available time, a little less than an hour, so naturally I only wanted to see the mineral displays. I also only had my iPhone so I could not take the best of photos but hopefully these will give some idea of what was on display.

On seeing the displays, I had mixed feelings, some joy and some disappointment. The mineral gallery had changed a bit, specimens replaced or updated, as is to be expected in any museum. The overall presentation was lacking for my mind, mainly due to the fact that the lighting left much to be desired and locality information was, as is usual for most museums, a bit too brief.

Notwithstanding those complaints, there were a number of specimens that caught my eye, some of which I hadn't seen before and some from unusual locations. Here are a few of them and I apologise for the quality of the photos:

This has to be the best Broken Hill Cerussite in existence and has been on display for many years:


This is just simply a fantastic Moly


Lord Howe Island


Aragonite - Tasmania


Albert Chapman collection

The Chapman collection gallery is a favourite of mine. I can clearly recall, from my visits to Albert over a 30 year period to 1996, where Albert had most of the specimens on display in his home, whether in glass display cabinets or in drawer cabinets or elsewhere in his home.

Again the lighting for these cases was very poor. The sides of the cases had small spot led lights but these were not turned on so viewing was not the best.

Here are three of the display cases:

Chapman collection display case 1

Chapman collection case

Chapman Collection case - Crocoite

Of concern to me was that in some cases the specimens appeared to have moved slightly since being on display. It would not take much effort to improve the displays and ensure that specimens could not move. In fact I believe that in a display next to a Heredsford Bournonite is a specimen (from memory I think it was a Pyrargyrite) that looks like it is about to fall off the stand on which it has been placed.

I happen to love Smithsonites and one of my favourites in the Chapman collection is this Smithsonite from the Proprietary Mine, Broken Hill:

Another neat Smithsonite:

One of the glamour specimens in the Chapman collection is this Rhodonite, but unfortunately it has suffered some damage to the edges of the xls since it first appeared in Minerals of Broken Hill by Worner et al. It still does not look very secure on its stand.

Despite the criticism the displays are well worth seeing and if you are in Sydney you will not be disappointed. You should also allow a lot more time to take in the minerals.

This article is linked to the following museum: Australian Museum (New South Wales)

Article has been viewed at least 6984 times.
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