Universities are repositories of knowledge and the Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney, just like the Museum of Human Disease at the University of New South Wales, is replete with objects and artefacts from across time and place.
Designed by Sydney-based design studio Johnson Pilton Walker, the Chau Chak Museum houses three distinct and disparate collections that were previously showcased separately and in no way near their entirety. The exhibition space, having tripled to 2000-square-metres thanks to its renovation, has allowed the University of Sydney to display a huge slice of its 400,000-plus strong collection of items.
So much so that on opening day there were 2252 objects that had never before been exhibited and another 70% that had been kept sealed and safely stored for the past two decades. There are even four Australian shark specimens that haven’t been on display since the 1930s.
What will you find at the Chau Chak Wing Museum?
According to the museum, you will find the unexpected: art, science, history and ancient cultures under the one roof.
The intent behind housing the three collections in one museum—The Nicholson Collection, The Macleay Collections, and The University Art Collection pieced together over 150 years—is to present the artefacts in new ways.
For example, the link between Cubism and mathematics, and the rise of photographic studios and our relationship with the ocean are just two of the eighteen exhibitions on display that would have been near impossible beforehand.
David Ellis, the museum director, says that ”it’s essential for a university museum to explore the myriad ways we look at objects. A Russell Drysdale oil painting isn’t just about Australian art history. It also gives science and agriculture students an opportunity to consider the use of land, and how perceptions of land have changed.”
However, possibly the most exciting news coming out of the Chau Chak Wing Museum is the dedicated Mummy room. The remains of the four mummies now reside side-by-side.
Elsewhere in the museum, the Ian Potter gallery will routinely display art from the Yolŋu communities of eastern Arnhem land while peppered throughout the museum will be other displays curated by Indigenous ‘Ambassadors’ telling the stories of their communities from across Australia.
To see what’s currently on or what’s coming up at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, see its website below.