The Queensland Museum Discovery Centre
Prior to its closure for refurbishments last year, the Discovery Centre sat comfortably as one of the best permanent exhibitions ever created within the Queensland Museum’s impressive and immersive display areas. Home to nearly 2000 objects and species including taxidermied animals, insects, birds, cultural artefacts, fossils and more, the Discovery Centre allows families the rare opportunity to get up close to a multitude of specimens, to examine them at length and to ask questions of experts so they may learn about and admire the scale and diversity of the creatures that share our great country with us.
It is for this reason that the team at Brisbane Kids are excited to announce that the new-look Discovery Centre has finally re-opened and, following a sneak peek at what visitors can expect prior to it opening, we can assure you that the short closure to refurbish was well worth the wait.
The New-Look Discovery Centre
Whilst the Discovery Centre previously spread itself generously over the third floor of the museum, the newer version now resides on a higher fourth floor perch. Found alongside the equally impressive Wild State Gallery, the Discovery Centre is laid out like a small but intriguing maze of towering glass cabinets, each one housing another family of species or collectables for visitors to view.
Whilst the glass cabinets and drawers are familiar the entire space now feels fresh and inviting, easy to navigate and with a wide open desk at its centre where the experts reside, waiting to help young and curious minds on their journey to discovery.
Live Animal Encounters
Not just an array of taxidermied and fossilised species, the new Discovery Centre is also now home to a few permanent live residents for guests to marvel at and interact with (if they dare). Whilst the tarantula shell held by the boy in the above picture may be scary enough for most to even look at, the museum actually has a live male and female version that reside in the Discovery Centre and, if you are brave enough, will be willing to meet you during your visit. By far one of the most popular attractions, these giant arachnids can be viewed almost at touching point as they scurry around their container (which, by the way, has it’s LID OFF) for all to see. If that’s not exciting enough, their much smaller but very much deadlier neighbour, the Funnel Web, is also available for introduction.
Hint: If you are lucky you may be able to see the spiders being fed while you are there. Whilst they only feed about once a week and it can be a little random, I have been told the best times to view this happening are on Thursdays between 1-2pm.
Not to be outdone, the equally mesmerising green tree pythons make for some pretty hypnotic viewing. Their glass cabinet was never without an audience as they slithered and entwined themselves gracefully around their branches. There are also giant burrowing cockroaches, three different species of stick insects and two leaf tail geckos (who are incredible at camouflage – don’t be surprised if you don’t see them during your first glance). From time to time you may even be lucky enough to meet a new centre visitor. On the day I went, the centre was also housing a scorpion and its team of babies. Fascinating, friendly and easily held, these creatures were a huge hit as they glowed defensively under torchlight.
Ask the experts
While the Discovery Centre is a place to admire and inspect an array of amazing species and objects at a range that wouldn’t usually be possible, it is also a place that allows inquisitive children and curious adults the opportunity to ask questions of experts and seek help with their own specimen enquiries. Specialist staff are on hand daily at the main green desk (and also roaming the centre) to talk through what is on display, to answer questions and also to discuss and help identify your own backyard discoveries.
In fact, since 2008, the team have answered more than 10,000 enquiries per year on a range of topics from archaeology to palaeontology, our unique biodiversity and cultural history, and popular questions about insects, reptiles, arachnids, earth sciences and mammals. No question is too small or too big! Not only in person though, the experienced staff are also happy to answer your questions over the phone or via their ‘Ask an Expert‘ link online.
Discovery Centre Fun Facts
- There are over 1,300 objects in cases including 427 insect species.
- There are over 600 objects in drawers.
- One of the smallest objects in the Discovery Centre collection is a parasitic wasp Scelio orientalis which is no bigger than the tip of a lead pencil.
- Some of the largest objects in the Discovery Centre collection are the turtle shells which measure up to 220cm in circumference and the taipan on display is 230cm in length.
Whilst the centre is a great source of information for young children and a way to foster a love of science from a young age, the Discovery Centre really is a must-see experience for the entire family to share together. Fascinating, enlightening, intriguing and entertaining – be sure to head out and check out the new centre with your family soon. It really is a gift to Brisbane Kids and their families that should not be left unwrapped and unexplored.