University of Sydney: Nicholson Museum

Between morning and afternoon conference sessions today I visited the Nicholson Museum in the Quadrangle of the University of Sydney. This was my second time visiting Australia’s oldest University Museum. The first was in January this year. I was very glad to see there was a special exhibition on Pompeii. It is a marvellous museum in Sydney. Its treatment and display of antiquities is astounding!

The section I really enjoyed is titled “Death Magic”. There are a few reasons why this particular exhibit impressed me the most. Firstly, its use of space is wonderful. It is in a medium-sized incredibly well lit room. In this space, the objects are really at the forefront. The use of light colours on the walls and floor are in stark contrast to the somewhat brightly-coloured ushabti and mummies in the centre of the room. I just think it was a fantastic way to really make the objects shine.

The two mummies in the middle of the room almost demand your attention, but, I really enjoyed seeing the little ushabti in a lit-up box. One other display cabinet that amazed me is a little difficult to describe but I’ll try. Essentially it looks a little like a pyramid. On the top level is an unwrapped mummy. Beneath the mummy are two shelves both of which also hold unwrapped mummies. It is a beautiful and respectful way to display the dead.

Sign at the Entrance to the Nicholson Museum.
Sign at the Entrance to the Nicholson Museum.

The rest of the museum is also wonderfully curated. The exhibit on Pompeii did not disappoint. My favourite objects in this space were the decorated mirrors. The exhibit gave a real sense of daily life in Pompeii. Do not miss the lego reproduction of the city. It is so fun!

Roaming around the museum you come face-to-face with the world of antiquities and you are momentarily transported into the past. This is just one of the museums here at the University of Sydney. I hope to visit them all numerous times throughout my Masters degree!

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