Crate ex­pec­ta­tions

Mu­seum’s hunt for top trea­sures

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS -

DEEP in the vaults of the Aus­tralian Mu­seum cu­ra­tors prised open a dusty old crate for the first time in 70 years to re­veal a re­mark­able beast.

The skele­ton of an Ir­ish elk — which is ac­tu­ally nei­ther Ir­ish nor an elk but rather an ex­tinct deer that once roamed Europe — was painstak­ingly taken out of stor­age and re­assem­bled to be­come one of the stars of a new land­mark ex­hi­bi­tion.

The im­pos­ing spec­i­men was cho­sen from around 18 mil­lion arte­facts, many of which are stashed away gath­er­ing dust, as one of the 200 Trea­sures of the Aus­tralian Mu­seum.

Cel­e­brat­ing the ob­jects and peo­ple that have shaped Aus­tralia, the new per­ma­nent ex­hi­bi­tion has been col­lated to mark the mu­seum’s 190th an­niver­sary and to cel- ebrate the re­open­ing of the West­pac Long Gallery af­ter a $9 mil­lion two-year restora­tion.

It in­cludes 100 of the most im­por­tant items in the mu­seum’s col­lec­tion — in­clud­ing Aus­tralia’s first ban­knote, a stuffed Tas­ma­nian tiger pup and the only sur­viv­ing large gold nugget from the early gold rush years of NSW. The other half of the ex­hi­bi­tion cel­e­brates 100 peo­ple who have helped shape the na­tion through con­tri­bu­tions to his­tory, sci­ence, na­ture or cul­ture.

The Ir­ish elk is one of the most im­pres­sive: with antlers span­ning 3m it would dwarf all liv­ing deer and even a fully grown bull moose.

The skele­ton was found per­fectly pre­served in a peat bog, an oxy­gen-starved quag­mire that mum­mi­fies any­thing which falls in.


Mike Smith and Tim Moore set up the im­pos­ing Ir­ish elk skele­ton at the Aus­tralian Mu­seum.

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