Ancient megafauna will come down to the museum

Ancient giants from a forgotten era will come to life at the opening of the Tweed Regional Museum’s latest Capturing Nature exhibition, which explores some of Australia’s earliest natural history photography.

The opening, which is the museum’s latest Up Late event, will offer viewers a chance to watch and interact with traveling giant Diprotodons in a one-of-a-kind interactive puppet show.

The public can explore the fascinating exhibition of Australia’s earliest natural history photographs, and as part of the night they can transform into an endangered species and be filmed by museum archivists – just like a species would have been in the 1800s.

The museum courtyard will be buzzing with mini fossil digging activities, bags of popcorn for grazing creatures and live music, plus food and a variety of drinks for adult explorers to purchase the night.

The family event, meant to ignite the imaginations of all ages, will be held on Saturday, October 29 from 4-8 p.m.

Capturing Nature: Early Photographs at the Australian Museum 1857-1893 takes viewers on a journey to a time when photography revolutionized science, art and society.

The images in the exhibition present the discoveries of scientists between the 1850s and 1890s, while telling the story of the advent of photography.

They tell the story of the pioneers of natural history and science in Australia at a time when photography was becoming an indispensable part of museum practice.

Reproduced from the Australian Museum’s collection of glass plate negatives from 1857 to 1893, these are some of Australia’s earliest natural history photographs.

Subjects vary from a large sunfish and the fin of a sperm whale to a gorilla and the fragile bones of a flamingo.

Most of the specimens photographed at the museum are by taxidermist Henry Barnes and his son, Henry Barnes Jnr, with the help of pioneering Australian Museum curator Gerard Krefft.

Australian museum director and CEO Kim McKay AO said some early adopters of photography were scientists.

“They quickly realized its enormous potential to capture the process of discovery and describe new species that are the basis of scientific practice,” she said.

“In Victorian times, museums were the public face of science. At the Australian Museum, the arrival of curator and scientist Gerard Krefft in 1864 marked a chance meeting of skills, experience and technology.

Tweed Regional Museum director Molly Green said the powerful photographs were beautiful and haunting.

“It was the photographs that introduced the world to the unusual plants and animals of the fledgling colony. They have not only been used by scientists, but have inspired artists and designers to the present day,” Ms Green said.

“The exhibition brings together a unique dossier on the first Australian sciences and contemporary applied art.”

If you miss the giant Diprotodons on opening night, don’t despair. They will take refuge in a prehistoric installation of the Museum until they leave to survey these lands during the final Museum Up Late Street Party on Saturday January 28, 2023.

Reserve your spot here for the Museum Up Late event and exhibition opening.

To learn more about Capturing Nature: Early Photographs at the Australian Museum 1857-1893, visit: Capturing Nature | Tweed Regional Museum (nsw.gov.au)

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