Sydney, 25 February 2019: The Hon. Don Harwin MLC, NSW Minister for the Arts, today announced the Australian Museum (AM) will tour its world-renowned Albert Chapman Mineral Collection to the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum, Bathurst, in regional NSW, creating the largest and most significant minerals exhibition in the country.

Minister Harwin was at the AM today with Museum Director and CEO Kim McKay AO and Mayor of Bathurst Graeme Hanger OAM to view some of the extraordinary minerals as they are readied and packed for transport to Bathurst.

“This tour is a great win for Bathurst and will be a major drawcard for tourism to regional NSW. Central West NSW is already recognised as one of the world’s best mineral regions with a complex geological history, over 300 different types of minerals, many among the best Australian examples of their kind, and a rich mining heritage.

“The new Albert Chapman Mineral exhibition at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum combined with the region’s existing heritage will create strong opportunities for tourism, education and the community while fostering greater engagement with science and the AM’s world-class collection,” Minister Harwin said.

Featuring approximately 550 outstanding Australian and overseas specimens including stunning smithsonite, rhodonite, pyromorphite, azurite, anglesite, cerussite and spessartine, the minerals make up two-thirds of the collection assembled by the late Albert Chapman during his lifetime and now in the care of the Australian Museum.

“All of the Chapman minerals are world class, and some even considered the finest examples of their type in the world. They are also a unique part of Australia’s heritage representing all periods of our mining history. We’re delighted to be touring them to Bathurst and giving communities in central and western NSW direct access to this incredibly important collection,” Australian Museum Director and CEO Kim McKay said.

“It is also fitting that while in Bathurst, the Chapman Collection will be displayed alongside the Somerville Collection. Not only are these collections respectively the two best mineral collections in Australia, Professor Warren Somerville AM was also a great friend of the late Albert Chapman, often seen together fossicking for minerals. Now more than 60 years later, these minerals are being brought back together and may well inspire the next generation of geologists,” Ms McKay said.

The Australian Fossil and Minerals Museum, located in the centre of Bathurst and operated by Bathurst Regional Council, is already home to the Somerville Collection of more than 3,500 minerals and fossils which is the lifetime collection of Professor Somerville AM. The Somerville Collection is owned by the Australian Museum and on permanent loan to Bathurst.

When both collections are displayed alongside each other, they will become the most significant collection of minerals in Australia, and a significant driver for tourism to the region.

“Bathurst Regional Council operates three museums, is building a fourth, a $5 million Rail Museum and has recently received $2.3 million from the State Government Regional Cultural Grant fund to build a $4.6 million specialist collections facility which will service regional collections. This significant loan from the AM will continue our growth as a regional centre of excellence in museums,” Graeme Hanger OAM, Mayor of Bathurst Regional Council said.

“We are proud to partner with the AM to host the Somerville and Chapman Collections. It will be a great benefit to our visitor economy as we welcome tourists to Bathurst to view the collection,” he said.

Visitors can expect to see historical and irreplaceable mineral heritage items from some of Australia’s most important mining regions including:

  • azurite and malachite from Cobar, NSW
  • stibnite, cassiterite, scheelite and fluorite from New England, NSW
  • azurite and chrysocolla from Chillagoe, QLD
  • crocoite and cerussite from Dundas, TAS
  • atacamite, chalcopyrite and malachite from Moonta and Burra, SA

Albert Chapman, arguably one of Australia’s greatest amateur mineralogists, was drawn to mineral collecting from a young age. While a cabinet-maker and carpenter by trade, collecting and trading was a lifetime hobby that dominated his life. Through his dedication and passion for fine minerals, Albert assembled one of the top ten private mineral collections in the world renowned for its mineralogical diversity, crystal perfection, aesthetic appeal and high Australian content. In 1988 his collection was purchased by the NSW Government and in 1995 transferred to the care of the Australian Museum.

The new Albert Chapman Minerals exhibition will open at the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum in June 2019 and remain on display for 18-months.

During the tour, the Australian Museum will undertake a significant refurbishment to its Sydney site with the entire Chapman Collection expected to return in a new exhibition in 2021.


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About the Australian Museum

The Australia Museum (AM) was founded in 1827 and is the nation’s first museum. It is internationally recognised as a natural science and culture institution focused on Australia and the Pacific. As custodian of more than 21.9 million objects, the AM is uniquely positioned to provide a greater understanding of the region through its scientific research, exhibitions and public and education programs. Through the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), the AM also has a leading role in conserving Australia’s biodiversity through understanding the environmental impacts of climate change, potential biosecurity threats and invasive species.

About the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum

Opened in July 2004 the Australian Fossil and Mineral Museum (AFMM) is the home of the internationally renowned Somerville Collection. The Museum is operated by Bathurst Regional Council and features some of the finest and rarest examples of minerals from around the world and scientifically significant fossils from Australia.

It is housed within the old Bathurst Public School building, built in 1876 by architect George Allan Mansfield and of itself, a place of cultural and historical importance. The Somerville Collection of fossils and minerals, donated by Professor Somerville to the people of Australia under the custodianship of the Australian Museum, includes crystals from over 100 Australian mine sites, spectacular and significant mineral specimens from around the world as well as diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and other gems.