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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

Treasures of the Natural World

Two-hundred of the oldest and strangest objects from London's Natural History Museum are coming to Melbourne.
By Samantha Teague
December 16, 2019
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By Samantha Teague
December 16, 2019
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Ever wanted to see a martian meteorite? A 200 million-year-old fossil? A cursed amethyst? Come June 2021, you'll be able to see all of them when some of the oldest and strangest treasures from London's Natural History Museum arrive in Melbourne.

The aforementioned intriguing objects are just a sample of the 200 specimens that'll be on show as part of Treasures of the Natural World, which will run from June 12, 2021 — with tickets currently available through until December 31, 2021, after the exhibition was postponed from 2020. The Australian-first, Melbourne-exclusive exhibition features a curation of extremely rare and mysterious objects, many of which have been invaluable to our understanding of the world.

Items from Charles Darwin's personal collection, the world's largest butterfly (with a whopping 30-centimetre wingspan), extinct animals, an extremely rare 1853 cubic gold nugget and a deadly flea that carried the bubonic plague are other items you'll see at the exhibition.

Cursed Amethyst courtesy of the Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.

Oh, and back to that cursed amethyst — you might not want to get too close. Its owner Edward Heron-Allen used to keep it locked inside seven protectives boxes and once threw it into a canal, but it was, of course, returned. When Heron-Allen donated it to the Natural History Museum he did so with a note saying the gem was "trebly accursed and is stained with the blood, and the dishonour of everyone who has ever owned it". Creepy.

Image two: Queen Alexandra's birdwing butterfly courtesy of the Trustees of the Natural History Museum, London.

Updated March 18, 2021.

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