Thursday 8 May, 2014.

The Australian Museum’s Long Gallery – the oldest gallery in the country – is showcasing more than 300 intriguing treasures from its famed collection with a quirky new interpretation celebrating its 1857 origins.

An Emperor Penguin collected by Sir Ernest Shackleton, a Lion from Botswana and shell currency from the Solomon Islands are just some of the highlights of the new space featuring extinct species and rare and mysterious items from the Museum’s vast collections.

The 70 square metre ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ space in The Long Gallery - or ‘Skeleton Gallery’ as it has been known since the 1990s – offers visitors a sneak preview of what the entire gallery may become at the completion of a forthcoming $2 million facelift planned over the next three years.

Kim McKay AO, Australian Museum Director and CEO, said the stunning preview is a contemporary tribute to the Museum’s original gallery and a wonderful opportunity for the public to see more of the Museum’s 18 million natural history specimens and cultural objects.

“The Australian Museum has a long history in not only collecting and exhibiting diverse objects from Australia and the Pacific but also in bringing other parts of the world to Sydney,” she said.

“Sydneysiders flocked to this gallery when it first opened more than 150 years ago to see an eclectic array of seemingly weird and wonderful offerings – from marsupials, fish and reptiles to preserved meats, botanical specimens and even ‘gold from a duck’s gizzard’.”

“We are now building on The Long Gallery’s incredible history to ensure today’s visitors have that same enthralling experience – bringing them up close to more than 300 bizarre and beautiful objects each with a unique story that will appeal to the natural sense of curiosity in all of us.”

Upon its estimated completion in 2017, the fully refurbished Long Gallery will become the home of Australia’s most captivating objects and specimens, as well as stories about the museum’s earliest curators right through to its continuing role in scientific discovery and an understanding of Indigenous culture.

The Long Gallery preview space will open on Friday 9 May and will be on public display for the next 18 months.

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