Friday, 28 October, 2016. Sydney, Australia: From the much feared Funnel Web Spider to the less familiar Portia Spider (she eats Orb-weavers for breakfast) discover how and why these extraordinary creatures have evolved to become the most successful species on the planet in Spiders – Alive & Deadly, at the Australian Museum (AM) from 28 October 2016 to 17 July 2017.
Featuring over 400 real specimens from the AM’s extensive Arachnology Collection including Redbacks, Tarantulas, Huntsman, Golden Orbs, Wolf, White-Tails and Trapdoor Spiders, the exhibition will also be home to 15 live spiders.
Incorporating the latest science, Spiders – Alive & Deadly, invites visitors to learn about key spider characteristics – venom, silk, where they live, how they hunt their prey, how they have adapted to the changing environments – and the critical roles they play in our ecosystem, as well as what to watch out for in your backyard this summer.
“Spiders are the unsurpassed architects and engineers of the natural world,” Kim McKay AO, Director & CEO, Australian Museum said. “Through understanding the latest science, our knowledge of spiders has greatly increased, and we now know more about these amazing creatures than ever before. It’s time we all faced our fears and got closer to the world of these remarkable arachnids in this fully immersive new exhibition.”
Visitors will be transported to the subterranean home of the ancient Tasmanian Cave Spider through augmented reality; compete in a mating dance ritual with a Peacock Spider; experience up close the Golden Orb weaving spider and their huge webs in the cobweb room; be captivated by large groups of the Australian Huntsman Spider – the world’s only communal spider family that live together.
Visitors can also witness live ‘venom-milking’ conducted on a daily basis by AM experts in the ‘Venom Lab.’ “The venom collected will be given to the venom databank at the University of Queensland – the largest venom databank in the world – where it will be utilised by medical researchers for potential pain medications and anti-cancer treatments,” Dr Rebecca Johnson, Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute said.
Breakthrough research on spider silk technology will also be introduced to visitors. Despite their gossamer appearance, spider silk ranks amongst the toughest and most durable material in the world. Biodegradable fishing lines, medical sutures and protective armour cloth are just some of the products currently being refined with this knowledge.
“Spiders are unique and talented creatures that are capable of astonishing things,” Catherine Timbrell, Exhibition Manager at the Australian Museum, said. “They inhabit every continent except Antarctica and are able to survive in environments that range from deserts to rainforests to our crowded cities. They can climb trees, survive falls, swim, parachute, spin webs and they can even give up a limb when in danger and then grow it back.”
“In the spider world of ‘eat or be eaten,’ we encourage visitors to marvel at the clever techniques used by predators of all sizes – including little-known defensive mechanisms such as mimicry and noise-making – to hunt and kill their next meal from ambush and suffocation to camouflage, super senses and cannibalism,” Timbrell said.
To coincide with Halloween and the opening of the Spiders exhibition, the AM’s popular adults-only party, Jurassic Lounge, will make its dark, ghoulish return on the evening of Saturday 29 October.
Spider documentary – Sixteen Legs
In line with the new exhibition, the AM is proud to present the premier of the latest spider documentary, Sixteen Legs. Based on the book by Neil Gaiman, with narration by Stephen Fry, Tara Moss and Polly Adams, Sixteen Legs explores the little known, prehistoric and rarely seen, Tasmanian Cave Spider.
The result of 2 years of filming, hundreds of years of evolution, from the breakup of Gondwana to present day, Sixteen Legs is it is what happens when two eight-legged pre-historic spiders the size of dinner plates, love each other very much and come together in the darkness.
Spiders – Alive & Deadly opens Saturday 29 October and explores the facts and fiction behind natures eight-legged wonders, while challenging visitors to confront their fears and get closer to some of nature’s most deadly, yet misunderstood creatures.
Media release, images and video are available here: http://australianmuseum.net.au/media/
Dates: 29 October, 2016 – 16 July 2017
Tickets: Adults – $22, Concession – $15, Child – $13. Families – $36 (one adult + two children) $57 (two adults + two children)
Book online and save: australianmuseum.net.au
Spiders – Alive & Deadly is co-developed by the Australian Museum with Questacon – The National Science and Technology Centre.