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Sunken Treasures unveiled in Canberra

27 JULY 2004

The finest pieces from a massive shipload of ceramics which lay at the bottom of the sea for 500 years are being installed at the National Museum of Australia on Thursday.

The precious 15th-16th century Asian cargo goes on show in a major exhibition, Lost for 500 Years...Sunken Treasures of Brunei Darussalam, which opens next Tuesday, 3 August.

The artefacts were on a ship which sank off the coast of Brunei and lay undiscovered in the South China Sea until 1997. The exhibition includes 500 beautiful pots, jars and bowls, diversely glazed and decorated with intricate floral and mythical motifs - and an exquisite cultural collection lent by the Brunei Museum.

This Thursday Sunken Treasures curator and Asian art expert Dick Richards will unpack some of the highlights of the exhibition including delicate drinking vessels and a striking bronze cannon in the form of crocodile.

WHAT: Installation of Brunei's Sunken Treasures

WHEN: 11am, Thursday, 29 July 2004

WHERE: Temporary Gallery, National Museum, Acton

Lost for 500 Years...Sunken Treasures of Brunei Darussalam traces the ambitious archaeological expedition which excavated the ship's cargo, with creative interactives to allow visitors to share the underwater adventure.

The exhibition will be officially opened by Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer on Tuesday, 3 August, in the presence of Brunei's Foreign Minister, Prince Mohamed Bolkiah.

Sunken Treasures is under the high patronage of the Government of His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam. It has been organised by Art Exhibitions Australia in cooperation with the Brunei Museums under the principal sponsorship of BHP Billiton.

Lost for 500 Years...Sunken Treasures of Brunei Darussalam is on show at the National Museum of Australia, Acton Peninsula, Canberra, until 4 October 2004. Entry is $8 adult, $6 concession, $5 child, $16 family. Public inquiries: 02 6208 5021.

For interviews, images or more information please contact Public Affairs Director Martin Portus on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or m.portus@nma.gov.au