Two large imposing geological relief maps hover over the staircase that links the Skeleton Gallery to the Mineral Gallery.

Making the geological relief map of NSW. 

In 1925 the Australian Museum Trust granted approval for the preparation of the geological relief map of NSW by museum staff. The model, as envisaged by the Museum Trust, was to highlight principal locations of mineral interest, . As there was no mould available, from which the museum could make a cast, articulators, Messers Clutton & Kinglsey, borrowed a large relief map from the Lands Dept. Within 1 week a cast had been made and the map returned.

Due to its size the relief map was divided into 9 separate sections. It was easier for museum staff to work on these smaller parts.The accompanying photo shows Australian Museum mineralogist, Oliver Chalmers, painting one section of the relief map. Later the 9 parts were joined to make the model we see today.

Oliver Chalmers painting geological relief map
Oliver Chalmers painting geological relief map Image: George Clutton
© Australian Museum

Using the most up to date information available the geological boundaries were drawn by combining information from the State geological map with Sir Edgeworth David's geological map of Australia and supplemented by the results of contemporary work in geological mapping.

Letter writer, Miss Waldron from the Technical Museum (now the Powerhouse Museum) examined the map and made suggestions for titling and writing. However she was not given premission to undertake the work and so Mr Bowman from the State Shopping Block was employed to do this.

Hanging the relief map

The total cost of this relief map was £42.2.4 and it was mounted in its current position in December 1936. When the Mineral Gallery was substantially remodelled in the 1980's questions were asked about the relevance of this model in the new exhibition. However the map was retained as an acknowledgment of the skills of the museum staff who constructed this beautifully made model which continues to astound and educate visitors.