50 Objects 50 Stories

Monumental capital of the goddess Hathor
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Winner of the 2012 IMAGinE Award for best exhibition and public engagement

50 Objects 50 Stories is not about the most important, or the most beautiful things in the Nicholson Museum. It is about objects with a story to tell. Beginning in 1860 with antiquities from the original donation of Sir Charles Nicholson, the exhibition journeys through to the present day.

Along the way, the stories introduce us to a cast of characters, curators and collectors who have helped shape the museum and its collection.

These include figures such as Sir Charles Nicholson, founder of the museum, a man of dramatically humble origins; newspaper reporter Edward Reeve, the museum’s first curator (1860-1889 in three terms); Enoch Powell, eminent Greek scholar, later radical English right-wing politician (curator 1938-39); and James Stewart, Cypriot archaeologist, prisoner of war and cat lover (curator 1954-1962).

There are adventurous women such as Agatha Christie and the intrepid Mary Woodhouse. There are famous archaeologists, including Sir Austen Henry Layard, Sir Henry Wellcome, Sir Flinders Petrie, Vere Gordon Childe, Dame Kathleen Kenyon, Sir Max Mallowan and Sir Mortimer Wheeler, and some pretty dreadful ones like Luigi Palma di Cesnola. And there are famous men and women such as Sir William Hamilton and his scandalous wife Emma, Thomas Hope, Orson Welles and DH Lawrence. All have a part to play as these wonderful stories unfold.

"It feels as if the ghosts of the past are telling you their stories. It’s sublime" – Nicholson Museum Visitor's Book, 4 January 2012.

ABC series: Extraordinary Curiosities
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In 2012, Senior Curator Michael Turner along with ABC News national arts reporter Anne Maria Nicholson explored the 50 Objects 50 Stories exhibition for ABC Arts.