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Exhibition explores Australia's land, nation, people

8 DECEMBER 2005

A major exhibition showcasing the best of the National Museum of Australia's collection will be launched at the Museum in Canberra next Tuesday, 13 December.

Captivating and Curious celebrates the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Museum through the NMA Act 1980. The Museum building was opened in March, 2001.

'Captivating and Curious reveals the richness and diversity of the Museum's collections, gathered together over the last 80 years - which tell the story of Australia's land, nation and people,' said Museum director Craddock Morton.

'Today the Museum cares for more than 200,000 objects, from the iconic to the everyday, providing a major resource for exploring Australian history,' he said.

This includes the Museum's most recent acquisition, a water bottle carried by the Australian explorer Robert O'Hara Burke on his historic expedition in 1860 with William John Wills - an object central to the story of the country's exploration. The water bottle was purchased by the Museum at auction only two weeks ago and arrives at the Museum today.

Other objects on show for the first time in the Museum are the stream anchor from Matthew Flinders's Investigator, Antarctic photographer Frank Hurley's camera, colonial clothing, Governor Lachlan Macquarie's dirk and relics from the 2004 bombing of the Jakarta embassy.

The free exhibition displays more than 500 objects, including traditional and contemporary Aboriginal artefacts, 'wet specimens' (preserved animals), Sir Robert Menzies's movie camera, Dame Nellie Melba's farewell letter, the No1 Holden Prototype and a 1930s tinker's wagon.

The exhibition is designed to demonstrate changes in museology, beginning with objects displayed in glass cases, and ending with multimedia interpretations providing rich background on several objects in the collection.

A special section, Collectors' Corner, celebrates the act of collecting and shows that small often-quirky personal collections can grow into something as significant and diverse as the National Historical Collection. Another, The Lab, details the work of museum conservators.

Captivating and Curious will be open to the public at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra from 14 December 2005 to 20 March 2006. Entry is free.

For interviews and striking images please contact Sandy Forbes on 02 6208 5351, 0409 916 481 or media@nma.gov.au