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Cabinet of Curiosities @ Museum of Brisbane

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If you're looking for something free and interesting to do, I can recommend visiting the Museum of Brisbane, which is showcasing objects bizarre and fascinating in its Cabinet of Curiosities exhibition.

The 'cabinet of curiosities' (or 'wunderkammer') was popular in the 16th century, when European kings and princes sent their staff to collect mysterious objects from all corners of the earth. These objects were then placed on display in a special part of the palace, creating the eclectic collections that were to become the forerunners to modern museums.

Inspired by this concept, the Museum of Brisbane has brought together a wide range of historical objects that tell us something about Brisbane's history. They range from leg-irons worn by local convicts in the late 1800s to religious relics from the early 1900s, and a portraits of Brisbane's colonial forebears, including Sir Thomas Brisbane himself.

Two of my favourites were an elaborate 1840s leech jar -- used to store medicinal leeches -- and a taxidermied dog, which reminded me of the good old days, when every second museum display was a stuffed creature of some kind.

It was also interesting to watch news footage from the 1970s, which featured former Premier Joe Bjelke-Petersen, the fire at the Whisky Au Go Go nightclub, and the riots at Boggo Road Jail. Brisbane has indeed had a chequered history.

The strange, funny and moving objects on display in the exhibition have been drawn from the collections held by members of Brisbane's Living Heritage Network. The network is made up of 80 historic sites, heritage organisations and museums that focus on Brisbane's history and cultural heritage. Between them, they were able to offer hundreds of objects from which the museum curators could choose.

Even those of us interested in history are often ignorant of the history of our own city. The Cabinet of Curiosities is a chance to learn more about Brisbane's heritage while exploring an entertaining and surprising modern-day 'wunderkammer'.
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Why? To see weird stuff and learn about Brisbane
When: 10am-5pm every day except Christmas Day, Boxing Day, New Year's Day, Good Friday and Anzac Day
Where: Museum of Brisbane, 157 Ann St, City
Cost: Free
Your Comment
This sounds too good to miss. I just love a great collection of the interesting, neglected and bizarre. There's one outing organised for the holidays. Thanks for the great article.
by Geraldine Massey (score: 3|8126) 2958 days ago
Sounds like being let loose in Gradma's spare room - you just don't know exactly what your going to find under the bed or on top of the wardrobe. Best change the map though - Bris. Museum has not been moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan last time I visited it.
by Steve (score: 0|4) 2950 days ago
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