In ancient Egyptian religion, Hathor is the goddess of the sky, of women, and of fertility and love. When ancient Egyptian carved her likeness into granite, it was so she could stand guard over a temple. Fast forward to 2020, and Hathor was more recently making a perilous journey across the road in Camperdown to her new home in Sydney’s new state of the art museum.
From ancient mummies to zoological specimens, Aboriginal artefacts, scientific instruments, and contemporary art – the Chau Chak Wing Museum brings together three powerful collections under one roof. Set in the grounds of the University of Sydney, the brand new purpose-built museum is set to open to the public next week from Wednesday, November 18.
The museum team got busy while the city was locked down. In preparation for the opening, many priceless artefacts have been carefully strapped down and wheeled across the road and through the university campus, including a 2nd-3rd century AD marble sarcophagus, a 1st Century BC statue of a Roman Senator – and Hathor, who dates back to 900BC. Weighing in at nearly four tonnes, it took a day and a half to move the statue across the University Quadrangle to its new home.
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The new facility brings together the museum’s existing collections, including the Nicholson Collection of antiquities, the Macleay Collections of natural history, ethnography, science and historic photography, and the University Art Collection. Founded in 1860, the Nicholson Museum is the largest collection of antiquities in the southern hemisphere, and has been one of the only permanent collections in Sydney where you can see a real mummy, examine tomb carvings and explore ancient worlds.
While the collections are not new, the opportunity for people outside of the University to see many of these artefacts will be. The new five-storey building (four floors of which will be publicly accessible) will triple the exhibition space available before now, and 70 per cent of the items on display have not been seen publicly in over two decades.
Keep an eye out for Time Out’s coverage after we pay a visit on opening week. Museum entry is free, but due to capacity restrictions you must book a timed ticket in advance if you’d like to visit, which you can do here.