31 Mar 2016
Take a journey back in time and step inside one of Australia’s most frequented museums.
Boasting five floors of natural history artefacts including the world’s largest collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural material, the museum is a haven for young, curious explorers to discover artefacts and the stories that behind them.
Inside the South Australian Museum
Stepping into the museum entrance, large floor-to-ceiling glass panels and interactive displays allow children to get as close to the action as possible.
Turning your head upwards, the museum’s most popular display — the giant squid extends from the ground floor all the way to level three and can be viewed from every level. We recommend starting at the top and looking down its length as the sheer size of creature’s bulbous head and a labyrinth of tentacles will have you taking a step back or three.
Stay on Level 3, and check out the Fossil Gallery and feast your eyes upon the Diprotodon skull (the largest marsupial that ever lived). Or if that doesn’t quite do it for you, this section is also home to Australia’s largest collection of dinosaur skeletons which features fossil dig pits for young explorers to channel their inner archaeologist along with touch screen technology to give visitors a unique experience into a life that roamed before dinosaurs.
* We recommend the kids try their hand at fossicking for bones opposite the display. With imitation soil, this is a fantastic activity to keep the little ones entertained plus no baby wipes or trips to the restroom required!
Just next door, explorers can step into Sir Douglas Mawson’s recreated hut from his Antarctica exploration in 1911 along with some of his personal belongings, including his sled, books, camel-hair sleeping bag and personal letters. Keep your eyes peeled on the glass cabinets as you can spot the famous rag doll that was given to Mawson for good luck by the Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova. This is not a display to skim over.
Another standout feature of the museum can be found in the Discovery Centre. The Customs Display is the major drawcard for children and parents alike with its unusual and steadily growing collection of jaw-dropping souvenirs that have been confiscated at airports around Australia. The display includes everything from monkey skulls from Indonesia, a grinning piranha from the Amazon Rainforest in Brazil along with deadly spiders, a tigers claw and a tail of a rattlesnake to name a few. Filled with fascinating stories, the Museum of South Australia also aims to shed light on the importance of conservation of endangered animals in the hope that this will kind of activity will prevent travellers contributing to the extinction of threatened species.
If this is too much for the littler ones, however, the Discovery Centre also hosts a Young Explorers program, a free event which runs daily for children aged between 3–5 years old.
Designed to immerse the children in the stories, objects and spaces of the South Australia Museum, experienced facilitators incorporate song, movement, rhyme, observation, exploration, communication and tactile sensations to engage children with the museum exhibits.
Another alternative is the ASO Jam Initiative series which offers school-aged children the opportunity to explore the links between music and the Museum’s collections where children bring along their instrument of choice or borrow one and jam at some of Adelaide’s most charming cultural precinct venues.
Additional tips and information
- Mawson fans can find additional artefacts at the nearby Science Centre (rear of the library next door, only open 10am–4pm weekdays).
- Kids programs are very popular and most are limited to 12 per session so secure your place and book in early!
- The cafe is a great spot for a lunch break and overlooks the museum’s Whale display. Plus, there is plenty of colouring pencils and pictures to keep the kids entertained.
- A kid’s activity trail map is downloadable from the website and also available at the information desk—perfect for a self-guided tour.
South Australian Museum
Adelaide, SA 5000
10:00 – 5:00 Monday – Sunday