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Afghanistan After Dark: Hidden Treasures from the National Museum, Kabul

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by Pj (subscribe)
Living in Brisbane enjoying food, wine, art, health and life!
Night at the Museum
On Friday night my partner and I headed into Brisbane's Southbank precinct to view the Queensland Museum's Afghanistan exhibition. We had booked tickets a month or so earlier for one of their 'After Dark' sessions.

Queensland Museum
Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures at the Queensland Museum

I'm not ashamed to admit that I am a huge history nerd so had really been looking forward to this event. The treasures that have been transported from the Afghan National Museum are nothing short of breathtaking. We elected against paying the extra $7.50 for an audio guide and to be honest I didn't miss it, there is more that enough information presented on placards throughout the exhibition. I found the brief section of Afghan history presented to be fascinating and I certainly learned quite a bit of new facts about the nation's history.

Queensland Museum
The games "Yurt Tent"

Unfortunately I do have a few complaints about the evening. I know that this was the first of three after dark events they are doing for this exhibition but I also am aware that they have done this for previous exhibits so you would think they would be fairly organised by now. It didn't really seem that way. When purchasing tickets I was told we needed to be there before 5.30pm as this was when proceedings would get underway. Within the museum's lobby organisers had set up a Yurt with traditional games, which proved surprisingly popular and a cash bar. There were also traditional Afghan tea services available, a DJ, and cooking demonstrations. Unfortunately what you don't find out until you get there is that most of the entertainment in the atrium area doesn't even start until 6.30-7.00pm. We had dinner booked for just after 7pm so subsequently didn't hang around to see much of the night time offerings.

The museum was also a little lacking in information for patrons attending this event. Everything just seemed a little disorganised. For example when we went upstairs to go and view the exhibit we were forced to queue for a second time around. We assumed this was to move people through periodically but the few staff that were standing around didn't bother to tell us what sort of wait we should be anticipating. I would hazard to suggest that when you are spending extra money to attend some of these limited ticketing events it may be worth the museum's while to limit ticket numbers down so that this is little or no queuing involved, otherwise I can see very little benefit in paying the extra $6 a ticket. Potentially the crowds would be far less concentrated on a normal day time session.

Through no fault of the museum, people are usually the biggest issue at these kind of events. I cannot fathom why seemingly uninterested people go to look at things that apparently bore the life out of them. Simply because they are not particularly keen on what is on display they then proceed like a pack of sheepdogs, herding you on from your display because they are in such a hurry to get back out to the cash bar. Similar to a good sheepdog they seem to find you wherever you try to escape to, honing in as they flit aimlessly from display case to display case.

Overall I think the museum's night time viewing concept is a good one, it just needs a bit of tweaking. I've no objection to paying a more for a slightly more exclusive viewing event if you actually go to the effort of making it exclusive. In terms of the exhibit itself, unless you are a history nerd you may not appreciate it all that much. Whilst the items are beautiful, there honestly is not that much to see for your $20 entry fee. If you don't mind spending the money however it is no doubt a beautiful collection.
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Why? Treasures from Afghanistan's past
When: Monday - Sunday
Phone: 136 246
Where: Queensland Museum
Cost: $21.50 normal admission, $26.50 After Dark
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