Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery Decant

Article | Updated 5 months ago

The Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery is currently being decanted, the process having starting in the first week of February 2016. The decant is being overseen by Alex Bevan, who is the Head of Department, Earth and Planetary Science, and Curator of Mineralogy and Meteorites at the Western Australian Museum.

Dr Bevan was one of a team of 3 experts who developed the Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery in 1999, along with Professor John Long and Dr Ken McNamara.

The gallery, as Dr Bevan explains, is a journey through the evolution of planet Earth, from the origins of the elements and nucleosynthesis and the origins and evolution of the Solar System to the building of planet Earth and the subsequent evolution of life.

Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery

Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery
Image copyright WA Museum

It took our 3 experts many years of combined skill and knowledge to put the Gallery together, and it helped that they each had different specialisations and interests that, when put together, all helped to tell the story of evolution.

Dr Ken McNamara, project leader for the development of the Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery and former Head of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the Western Australian Museum, specialises in invertebrate paleontology. 

As such, Dr McNamara put together display cases ranging from stromatolites that tell the story of some of the earliest life on earth, to fossil ammonites that became extinct around the same time as dinosaurs. These marine molluscs, therefore, help to tell the story of one of the greatest extinction events in Earth’s history.

As Dr McNamara explains, the purpose of the Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery was to tell these amazing and ancient narratives using the best examples the small team could find:

It was using particular fossils to tell a particular story.

Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery

Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery
Image copyright WA Museum

Professor John Long, former Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the Western Australian Museum (1989 – 2004), explains that he was responsible for the development of the vertebrate content of the Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery, including objects, images and information for various displays. 

The story of vertebrate life on Earth in the Gallery ranges from the very first fishes through to more complex structures such as dinosaurs, mammals, and birds.

The team faced a number of challenges throughout the development of the Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery, and one of the problems that stood out to Professor Long whilst curating the vertebrate story were the numerous gaps that couldn’t be filled by specimens in the WA Museum collection. This was overcome, as Professor Long explains, by trade.

[…] that involved a lot of negotiating with other museums to get specimens on trade. We didn’t have a big budget at the time […] but we’d often trade [for example] a fish from Gogo for a Tyrannosaurus skull […].

Although there were numerous challenges to overcome, it was all worth it in the end, and, as Dr Bevan puts it, ‘We had a lot of fun.’ The Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery has been a source of inspiration and education to academics and the general public alike for over fifteen years, and no doubt many of the specimens and stories represented in the Gallery will play an important role in the New Museum.

Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery

Diamonds to Dinosaurs Gallery
Image copyright WA Museum