A large range of new objects and stories will be on display at the National Museum of Australia from next year as it transforms its five permanent galleries after seven years on show.
Rolfe Harris’s wobble board, which was recently added to the museum’s extensive collection, will be one of the new items visitors can see.
Permanent exhibitions are usually turned over every seven to 10 years, and this time is taken preparing for the next display.
The first new gallery, Australian Journeys, has been three years in the making and will open on January 29. It will replace the Horizons exhibition.
Australian Journeys tells the stories of Australia’s connections with the world and the people who came to and from the country.
It is a huge story to tell, and senior curators Kirsten Wehner and Martha Sear have sorted through thousands of stories to reduce 80 to 100 exhibits down to 42.
Ms Wehner said, ”It was a matter of which stories to tell, researching our own collection to see what items we could bring out and developing strong partnerships with other museums in Australia and overseas.”
The exhibition includes stories of the trepang fisherman from Makassar who came until 1907 and camped on the beaches of Tasmania.
On display, are also convict ”love tokens” made from pennies, which they gave to their loved ones to be worn as amulets.
The museum has recently acquired the largest collection of love tokens in the world. The 300 tokens will be on a rotation through the new exhibition.
Visitors can be taken through the development of many of Australia’s industries with the personal stories of Australians and immigrants.
”These are big stories but also personal stories,” Ms Wehner said.
Frederick Wolseley’s mechanical shearing tools give an insight into the wool industry, and the development of the Aboriginal art industry can be seen with the first indigenous artworks that were displayed overseas.
”This exhibition is like a cocktail party,” Ms Wehner said.
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