Sydney, Friday 23 September 2022: Sharks, a new blockbuster exhibition opening on 24 September 2022, is set to take centre stage at the Australian Museum (AM) this summer. Highlighting the very latest science and with deep cultural overlays, Sharks invites visitors to explore the diversity of these ancient fishes.

Featuring over 100 specimens and artefacts from the AM collections, visitors will encounter 11 life-sized scientifically accurate models including an eight-metre whale shark and the now extinct 270-million-year-old Helicoprion (also known as the buzzsaw shark); the rare deep sea Goblin Shark which dates back 125 million years; and the nation’s first taxidermy spine of a Shortfin Mako shark.

Alongside the scientific specimens, visitors will also be able to see over 30 significant cultural objects, including several specially commissioned for the exhibition, and discover how First Nations and Pasifika Peoples knowledge of sharks can help protect them. State-of-the-art projections and a specially designed ‘oceanarium’ showcasing the majesty and power of sharks swimming through the ocean will captivate visitors.

NSW Treasurer, the Hon. Matt Kean MP, said the NSW Government is thrilled to support the Sharks exhibition.

NSW Treasurer, the Hon. Matt Kean MP at the Australian Museum Sharks exhibition launch.

Overall winner- Ashlee Jansen

Image: James Alcock
© Australian Museum

“Opening just in time for the September school holidays, the Australian Museum’s new Sharks exhibition is the perfect family activity. The NSW Government is proud to be supporting the Australian Museum to enable audiences to experience the magic of this homegrown exhibition, which will tour internationally after it debuts in Sydney,” Treasurer Kean said.

NSW Minister for Tourism and the Arts, the Hon. Ben Franklin MLC, said the exhibition is one of the largest and most significant glimpses into sharks that an Australian museum has ever produced.

“It’s so exciting to have this fierce exhibition opening in Sydney, offering visitors the chance to learn more about the history, science and cultural connections of sharks. It’s fantastic to see our state’s own cultural institutions producing world class exhibitions like these, and I congratulate the entire Australian Museum team on the official opening of Sharks,” Minister Franklin said.

Director and CEO, Australian Museum, Kim McKay AO said this is not only an exhibition about sharks, but also an exhibition about us, as Australians.

“Sharks are unmistakeable, legendary, beautiful and among the most fascinating animals on the planet. Yet, they are also misunderstood and are not always given the credit they deserve. I hope that through this exhibition, visitors will realise that our actions and attitudes will decide the fate of these ancient survivors, which play a critical role in maintaining the health of ocean ecosystems around the world, which are also vital to humans,” McKay said.

“We all want a thriving marine environment where sharks can flourish. But according to the ICUN, a quarter of the world’s sharks are threatened with extinction. Sharks can also influence the economy through ecotourism - one whale shark can bring in an estimated $2 million* in its lifetime,” McKay added.

Featuring over 100 specimens and artefacts from the AM collections, visitors will encounter 11 life-sized scientifically accurate models
Featuring over 100 specimens and artefacts from the AM collections, visitors will encounter 11 life-sized scientifically accurate models. Image: James Alcock
© Australian Museum

“Some 182 species, nearly half the world’s shark species live in Australian waters, making this country one of the best places on Earth to study sharks in all their rich diversity. As Australia’s first museum, the AM has the fourth largest fish type collection in the world. Our Ichthyology collection, and its staff, play an important role in providing resources and teaching to promote the understanding and conservation of our oceans,” McKay said.

“To ensure scientific accuracy of the exhibition, our Ichthyologists, Amanda Hay and Kerryn Parkinson, alongside Palaeontologist, Matt McCurry, and the team from the AM’s Collection Care and Conservation unit have worked closely with our exhibitions team to gather, curate and assemble the very latest information on these much-maligned species,” McKay explained.

Amanda Hay, Ichthyologist, Australian Museum Research Institute, said all sharks big and small, from the deep oceans to the coral reefs have an important place in our ecosystem.

Their diversity is incredible, and we know this because as a natural history museum we hold the reference collections to our planet’s biodiversity. People will get to see shark species in this exhibition they never imagined existed. Amanda Hay, Ichthyologist, Australian Museum Research Institute.

In addition, the AM sought out input from shark experts including conservationist Valerie Taylor AM and science officers from the NSW Department of Primary Industries and CSIRO.

Three years in the making, Sharks has been developed, designed and built by a team across the AM, including scientists from the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) and the AM First Nations team.

Incorporating scientific data directly from the AM’s team of scientists and collaborating partners, the interactive exhibition includes specimens and cultural artefacts that showcase the beauty, diversity and jaw-dropping size and scale of sharks. Visitors will be able to navigate through a shark body, see the world through the eyes of a hammerhead shark, detect swimming sharks from a Clever Buoy, discover how Pasifika Peoples interact with sharks by calling them to shore and be immersed in an ‘oceanarium’ with sharks swimming all around. The very latest information on conservation, shark products and shark safety will also be highlighted enabling visitors to make informed choices.

To add to the exhibition, there is a raft of programs launching on the opening weekend which will help dispel some of the myths and misunderstanding of sharks.

Sharks is proudly supported by the NSW Government through the Blockbuster Funding initiative. The NSW Department of Primary Industries is the Exhibition Partner and Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, Minderoo Foundation, and Macquarie University are the Supporting Partners. AM visitors can enter for the chance to win a trip for two to see the vibrant Kimberley wilderness with Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic as part of their support of the expedition. ABC Radio Sydney is the Media Partner for the exhibition.

Event details:

What: Sharks exhibition

When: Saturday 24 September 2022 – Tuesday 31 January 2023

Where: Australian Museum, 1 William St, Darlinghurst NSW 2010

For more information and to book tickets, visit:

Editors note:

Imagery, myths and facts sheet, biographies here.

*source; Oceana.

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Sharks opening weekend

Free performances by the Sydney Youth Orchestra and traditional Mer (Murray) Island dances in Hintze Hall, plus free talks by shark experts across Saturday 24 September and Sunday 25 September:

  • The Epic Evolution of Sharks: Shark guru Dr Will White, senior curator of CSIRO’s Australian National Fish Collection, travels back 450 million years to discover the incredible diversity and distinct traits that have made these remarkable creatures so successful. 11.30am – 12:30pm | Saturday 24 September | Free, registration required | Ages 14+
  • Sharks, Kinship and Conservation: Walpiri woman and journalist Rachael Hocking along with Meriam man and Sharks contributing artist Obery Sambo provide insights into First Nations kinship and knowledge systems, and how storytelling and cultural practices plays a vital role in the conservation. 11.30am – 12:30pm | Sunday 25 September | Free, registration required | Ages 14+

Twilight bites

Twilight Bites is a monthly after-hours talk and tour series with renowned shark scientists and cultural experts. After each talk, guests are invited to explore the AM’s Sharks exhibition, where specialists in various fields of shark science will appear to answer your sharpest shark questions. Talks include:

  • Capturing Sharks with Valerie Taylor: Join pioneering diver, conservationist and filmmaker Valerie Taylor as she discusses her life under the sea and her hopes for the future of shark conservation. Wednesday 5 October | 5.30pm – 7:00pm and 7:00pm – 8:30pm | $72 Members, $90 Non-Members, $81 Concession | Ages 16+
  • Sharks in the Picture: Award-winning photographer and filmmaker Michaela Skovranova joins the AM’s Climate Solutions Centre curator, Dr Jenny Newell, for a discussion about bearing witness to Earth’s most magnificent environments, observing their changes and finding ways to champion their survival. Wednesday 2 November | 5.30pm – 7:00pm and 7:00pm – 8:30pm | $72 Members, $90 Non-Members, $81 Concession | Ages 16+
  • Sharks, Protection and Detection: Join the AM for canapés and conversation as Principal Research Scientist with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Dr Paul Butcher details the future of shark conservation and shares some of the science that is helping to keep sharks and swimmers separate. Wednesday 7 December | 5.30pm – 7:00pm and 7:00pm – 8:30pm | $72 Members, $90 Non-Members, $81 Concession | Ages 16+

School holidays

Each school holidays, the AM keeps curious kids entertained and inspired with a range of fun and educational activities. The spring school holiday program includes a stack of shark themed events, including:

  • Cool Sharks: Clay Sculpting Workshop: Crafty kids will learn all about sharks and sculpt your own out of clay in these school holiday workshops for children. Thursday 29 & Friday 30 September | 10.30 – 12.30am, 1.30 – 3.30pm | $52 per child (Members), ‎‏$65 per child (non-Members)

About the Australian Museum

The Australian 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. The AM’s mission is to ignite wonder, inspire debate and drive change. The AM’s vision is to be a leading voice for the richness of life, the Earth and culture in Australia and the Pacific. The AM commits to transforming the conversation around climate change, the environment and wildlife conservation; to being a strong advocate for First Nations cultures; and to continuing to develop world-leading science, collections, exhibitions and education programs. With 22 million objects and specimens and the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), the AM is not only a dynamic source of reliable scientific information on some of the most pressing environmental and social challenges facing our region, but also an important site of cultural exchange and learning.

Media Contacts

Farley Fitzgerald, Head of Communications

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Claire Vince, Media and Communications Adviser

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E Claire.Vince@Australian.Museum