What a great and unexpected treasure that I more or less stumbled upon here.
The Nicholson Antiquity Museum in the University of Sydney has the largest collection of antiquities in the Southern Hemisphere (don’t get over excited, it’s still a small museum viewable in detail in an hour). While having no world famous pieces it has quite a range of things tastily displayed and labelled and, as such, is well worth a visit.
The museum was founded in 1860 following the donation by Sir Charles Nicholson, after whom the museum was named and a founder of the University, of his private collection of antiquities and curiosities which he had collected on an 1856-57 tour though Egypt and Italy. Today the museum has nearly 30,000 artefacts of artistic and archaeological significance from Egypt, Greece, Italy, Cyprus and the Near East.
In addition to the usual statues, pottery and an interesting selection of funeral urns, the museum has the ubiquitous mummies – a Roman Egyptian and a mummified cat – the latter of which turned out to be just a bag of bones when CT scanned in 2009.The mummies form part of the largest and most important collection of Egyptian artefacts in Australia.
On temporary display during my visit was an amazing, and one of the largest (at 190,000 bricks) ever built, Lego model of Pompeii as it was at the time of its destruction, by the volcano Vesuvius, in 79AD – though with the novel additions of Pink Floyd in concert at the Amphitheatre and Mozart feeling inspired in the Temple of Isis.
The small gift shop at the entrance seemed to have on sale mostly souvenirs made by the British Museum rather than anything specific to the Nicholson Museum. Still, or perhaps because of this, worthy a browse.
Monday to Friday 10am – 4.30pm
First Saturday of month 12 noon – 4pm
Other Saturdays, Sunday and Public Holidays Closed
Entry Fee: Free
Address: The University of Sydney
Directions: Off Paramatta Road
Phone: 61 2 93512222