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Six historic treasures coming to the new Westpac Long Gallery

Australia’s first museum is giving its first gallery a major facelift – and they’re filling it with 200 national treasures

Photograph: Supplied

The Australian Museum has announced an historic partnership with Westpac and the NSW Government to restore the nation’s first museum gallery. It will be called the Westpac Long Gallery, and it will showcase 200 significant artefacts from the Australian Museum, including two items on loan from the bank’s and local government’s collections. 

Here's a sneaky look at what the new gallery will house.

Six of the treasures to be featured:

 

1. Australia’s first bank note presented to the museum on extended loan from Westpac. The note was issued on the day the Bank of New South Wales opened on April 8, 1817. It was worth ten shillings back then.

 

2. The Maitland Bar Gold Nugget is the only surviving example of a large gold nugget from the early mining years of NSW. On extended loan from the NSW Government, the nugget weighs 10.7kg (9kg gold) and is the size of a loaf of bread.

 

3. This rare Kalani’opu’u cape collected by Captain Cook on his third and final voyage is made of netted fibres and feathers. It was crafted by the Hawaiian people and given to Cook by King Kalani’opu’u in 1778.

 

4. This is the skull of Meiolania patyceps, best know as the extinct horned tortoise. It comes from Lord Howe Island and is approximately 100,000-120,000 years old.

 

5. Prior to the Australian Museum’s Koala Genome Project, virtually nothing was known about the immune system of our favourite drop bears. Now we know they’re at risk from Chlamydia and Koala retrovirus.

 

6. The skeleton of Sir Hercules (the horse, not the rider) represents one of the founding stallions of Australia’s history. He was bred in 1843 on the Hawkesbury River and though he never raced, his offspring did, winning the Melbourne Cup and the first Sydney Cup.

 

The $9 million project to is co-funded by Westpac, the NSW Government and the philanthropic supporters of the museum.

The Westpac Long Gallery is due to be completed in 2017, which will mark the 190th anniversary of the museum and the 200th anniversary of Westpac (first called the Bank of New South Wales). And it’ll feature an exhibition of 200 Treasures of the Australian Museum, due to open in September 2017.

At the official announcement, Kim McKay AO, the museum’s executive director and CEO, was presented with two monumental articles of financial history: Australia’s first bank note and a 10.7kg nugget of gold. “I’m of great convict heritage stock,” joked McKay, “but the Australian Museum staff can be trusted.” Both items are on extended loan to the museum and will be exhibited in 200 Treasures of the Australian Museum.

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By: Dee Jefferson

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