Home » Museum » REVIEW: Alexander The Great Exhibition @ Australian Museum

REVIEW: Alexander The Great Exhibition @ Australian Museum

My broadband connection is currently slowed down to a bleep. My brother was here for Christmas and New Year, so between the 2 of us , we really made Telstra run for the money.

I think this is a good time for me to try my hand on writing a review on the exhibition ‘Alexander The Great: 2000 Years of Treasures’ currently running at the Australian Museum. Picture taking was prohibited in the exhibition, so I shall try my best to scout some pictures on the internet for graphical appeal. Surfing the net for information and uploading the pictures will be a pain in the arse, but I shall try my best.

(Nevertheless, our speed will pick up in the next billing cycle in a few days time.)
Date of Visit: 10:30am Saturday, January 5, 2013
Entrance ticket: A$24
Time I took: 1 and 1/2 hours (but could be longer, if I wasn’t hungry or the crowd starting to build up)
Verdict: 5 stars

Invitation and Welcome: A huge colourful tapestry depicting Alexander The Great and the family of Darius was on the entrance wall. The visitor is invited to meander around the statues of Greek Gods Heracles, Eros , Meleager who had significant influence on Alexander.

Tapestry of Alexander The Great the the family of Darius

Tapestry of Alexander The Great the the family of Darius

Space 1 : An Introduction of Alexander.
Who is Alexander? Well, he was the son of Phillip and Olympias – a pair of bickering parents – sounding familiar?

I was especially intrigued in this piece. It shows an effeminate and cleanly-shaven Alexander. This was not the norm of his time because men were supposed to be manly and have beards. So, is he homosexual? Highly likely since many talented ancient men eg Leonardo Da Vinci, Hadrian, Michelangelo were…

Head of Alexander the Great

Head of Alexander the Great

Space 2 (THE BIGGIE!): Alexander‘s Empire

Here are artifacts galore from India, Persia, Egypt and countries that I have never heard of before like Sacae and Bactria (where?) Needless to say, I am very taken by the gold jewelry and silverware – very detailed and intricate handiwork the Ancients! Wow! This is some serious ear-rings!  (The photo came out small, so check it out in the museum)

Nike gold ear rings

Nike gold ear rings

I only gave the pots and architectural pieces a cursory look. The famous black Statue of Cleopatra from Egypt is there too. My favourite is this piece of Gonzaga Cameo potrait of Ptolemy II and Arsinoe – and it’s big!


Gonzaga Cameo

The large coin collection is part of Alexander’s self-promotional propaganda – clever, since every person in the Empire needs money. Since the coins were small, so there was an interactive touch screen TV which flips the coin, so one can see the reverse of the coin. I think this is very cool, and the children loves it!

The use of time-line on the wall to trace his campaign and conquests is a good idea; both to gel the various exhibits and to guide the visitor. The time-line is accompanied with a snapshot/ background info of the war.

The walk-about in Space 2 came to an end in the central rotunda with a video animation showing that sportsmanship was a big part in the Hellenic era , which was rather entertaining and still applicable to this day: The Greek-style earthen pot comes to life showing a man throwing a javelin, running, boxing and chariot racing. Well, nothing has changed much, except chariot racing is now replaced by Formula 1 racing?

Still, how did Alexander The Great died? Nobody knew for certain, but it is definitely MURDER!

Space 3: Alexander’s cultural legacy and influence.
Down the ramp to Space 3. This is an even bigger room in my opinion -perhaps due to larger spacing and brighter lights – more artifacts follow, but now the bits and pieces of his influence in art, culture, engravings, tapestries are starting to get tedious. I have used up my concentration and can’t help feeling overwhelmed. But do check out the armor made from ivory with details of lions at the weaponry section. The Ancients were really tiny, a Size 0, in modern couture sizing.  And, Yes, I got the idea that Alexander the Great had successfully spread Hellenistic ideas around the world.

Space 4: A huge shout-out to Catherine The Great for theBESTEST Alexander the Great collection in the world
In Biblical studies et al, women are subservient to men, but here Catherine The Great outshone all the men and showed that women can be as good as men or even greater!
Anyway, the reason why The Hermitage Museum in Russia had amassed such a big Alex collection is because the Russians believed themselves to be to be the Byzantine descents of Alexander The Great. Catherine used Alex as a role model and believed herself to be a direct descendent of Alex and thus added ‘The Great’ to her name.

More example of the Baroque end of Greco art showing the heroic romanticism of Alex

Space 5: A modern take on Alexander’s influences.
A display of books, movie posters. Not very interesting

Will Tilden Approve?
If I were to write a proper report, it will say: “The curatorial interpretation is very successful in the wholistic interpretation of Alexander The Great. The curator has provided information and exhausted resources to express, interpret and review the legacy of Alexander the Great itself. Thoroughly engaging. Used 400 objects from classical antiquity through to the modern age from both Western and non-Western origins. It not only concentrates on Alexander the Great in the particular time of 323 BC, it’s encompasses the whole story, the legend and influence of this Conqueror. The exhibit tells the story behind the Man; who he really was; who influenced him; the people that taught him; and the heroes he looked up to, particularly Achilles and Heracles. It’s about understanding the man.”

So HELL YEAH!! Ticked all of Tilden’s Principles

PS: Don’t forget to scan the QR reader for handy on the hand info!

Behind the scene look of Alexander The Great Exhibition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NwnX0HaMcvM
Pictures if u can’t make it to Australian Museum: http://www.alexandersydney.com.au/the-exhibition/photo-gallery/
Proper write-up: http://neoskosmos.com/news/en/the-legacy-of-alexander-the-great

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