Tales from the Chau Chak Wing Museum: Scientific discovery and exhibition creation

UWA seminar series 2021, 23 April

The Nicholson Collection at the University of comprises 30,000 archaeological artefacts and antiquities primarily from the cultures of the Central Mediterranean, Egypt, Middle East and Europe. In 2020 the collection relocated to its newly built home at the Chau Chak Wing Museum, displayed for the first time alongside its sister collections from the Macleay Museum: Natural History, Science, Historic Photography and Ethnography and Aboriginal and Torres Strait island cultural collections, and the University’s fine art Collection.

The move to this new museum was the catalyst for a wide range of new research projects, allowing for a deep dive into the materiality of the collections and new collaborative research methodologies, ultimately informing the creation of new, publicly accessible, exhibitions on the ancient world. This seminar will delve into the recent collaborative scientific research projects from ground-breaking imaging of Egyptian animal mummies, to spectroscopic and microscopic analysis of coffins, frescoes and textiles, and the characterisation, 3D scanning and CT imagining of ceramics and faience. We will discuss methodologies for working with historic museum collections, the collaborative processes that underpin research of this nature, and the final results not only for an individual project, but how this new data has been incorporated into museum exhibitions and teaching.

Candace is an archaeologist, working primarily in Cyprus, and the assistant curator of the Nicholson Collection, Chau Chak Wing Museum at the University of Sydney. Candace began her museum career while completing her undergraduate studies in Archaeology at the University of Sydney. Her experience over the past 13 years has included: curation of the Nicholson Museum’s archaeological collections, museum’s education, focused on object-based learning sessions and gallery tuition and, collection’s management, working in registration and collections auditing.

Candace’s research interests criss-cross the worlds of archaeology, collection focused projects and the history of collections including the often-overlooked role women have played ‘behind the scenes’ in museums. Her current suite of exhibitions at the Chau Chak Wing Museum include Animal Gods: Classics and Classification, Pharaonic obsessions – Ancient Egypt, an Australian story, Mediterranean Identities – Across the wine dark sea and Roman Spectres.

In her spare time Candace is part of the executive team for the Australasian Women in Ancient World Studies and works actively with the AWAWS History of Women in the Discipline project.

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