Leviathan: An astonishing history of whales

Around the globe and across centuries whales have inspired awe and wonder. Leviathan takes you on a voyage through the science of whales in their environment and the astonishing history of whales and humans.

Augmented reality brings to life a giant whale skull to reveal the anatomy of whales and their amazing senses for navigation and communication. In a series of stunning projections, whales dwarf visitors as they swim across the gallery walls.

Leviathan reveals the surprising place of whales in the cultures and the spiritual life of peoples in Asia and the Pacific. It presents a rich collection of artefacts from across the Pacific, Fiji, Hawaii, New Zealand and beautiful artworks from Ngarrindjeri and Mirning artists in South Australia.  It includes an extraordinary collection from Lamalera, the remote Indonesian island where subsistence whaling is still practiced.

Leviathan explores the brutal history of whaling in Australia – surprisingly the colony’s first export industry – tracing it from whalers risking their lives in fragile open boats to the industrial slaughter of the 20th century which drove whales to the edge of extinction. The exhibition traces the success of the environmental movement stopping whaling and of whale populations recovering. It offers hope the recovery will continue – if ocean environments are protected.