Capturing Nature

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More About This Title Capturing Nature


In the mid-nineteenth century, scientists around the world were quick to see photography’s huge potential for capturing fleeting moments of life, death and discovery. At the Australian Museum, curator Gerard Krefft and taxidermist Henry Barnes began to experiment with the revolutionary new art form, preparing and staging their specimens — from whales and giant sunfish to lifelike lyre bird scenes and fossils — and documenting them in thousands of arresting images.

Capturing Nature reveals these groundbreaking photographs for the first time, along with the Australian Museum’s urgent quest to become more scientific in its practices.


Vanessa Finney is a curator, historian and archivist with a special interest in natural history in colonial Australia. At the Australian Museum she manages the country’s oldest and largest natural history archives and rare books collection. She is the author of Transformations: Harriet and Helena Scott, colonial Sydney’s finest natural history painters (NewSouth December 2018)