I'm grateful to have been given the opportunity to complete a critical appraisal of the permanent exhibit Surviving Australia, as found that I really enjoyed the process. Switching gears from objectivity to subjectivity was much easier than I anticipated, and felt a lot like how I would approach writing a scholarly book review.

Here are my findings:

What Attracted My Attention

  • Giant wombat
  • Documentary movies
  • The touch table: while I didn’t have any desire to play with it, I watched people used it for a good while. I thought, “That’d be fun to do with my husband if he were here.”
  • Deep Sea touch screen
  • Video footage in “Sponge gardens in Sydney”
  • Video footage of the thylacine and the thylacine story in general
  • The specimens of box jellyfish on display and information about box jellies

What Didn’t Attract My Attention

  • The fossilized bones on display; my reaction was, “I’ve already seen that.
  • The table of specimens; not enough interpretation for me to be interested
  • Mounts of animals in the section that talked about extinction and endangered species

What I Especially Liked

  • The exhibit “soundtrack” – the sounds being played throughout the exhibit really added to my experience
  • I kept smiling when I saw the “hidden” animal mounts placed around the exhibit

What I Especially Didn’t Like

  • The live reptiles in the exhibit; even though they grabbed my attention, they evoked negative feelings
  • Anything I had “seen before”: jaw bones, mounts, seashells


All in all, I was mainly drawn to:

  • Australian things I was already vaguely familiar with but wanted to know more about (wombat, koala, emu)
  • Things I thought were weird (giant wombat), scary (box jellies), or striking (deep sea creatures)
  • The story of the thylacine and the video of it when it was alive
  • The specimens of the box jellyfish: I hear about them in America all the time, but I’ve never seen them in person. The scale of how small they are and yet how much damage they can do is very powerful