Seven new shows at the Chau Chak Wing Museum

5 June 2024
As the University of Sydney's Chau Chak Wing Museum farewells the Biennale of Sydney, it's thrilled to announce a suite of new exhibitions opening in the second half of 2024.

Featuring celebrated art works, newly commissioned pieces and incredible scientific models, our free exhibitions bring fresh perspectives to one of Australia’s most extensive museum collections.  

Coloured glass next to viewing equipment

Consuelo Cavaniglia: seeing through you, 2024, hand blown glass, acrylic, courtesy of the artist and STATION. Photo by: David James. 

Consuelo Cavaniglia
seeing through you

29 June until February 2025

With a practice focusing on perception and our experience of space, Consuelo Cavaniglia is the first artist invited to respond directly to the Chau Chak Wing Museum’s architecture. In seeing through you, Cavaniglia invites viewers to experience an intensified sense of colour, reflections, shadows, apertures and perceptual shifts in the museum’s internal architecture – from the ‘lantern’ skylight through to its galleries. In the museum’s Penelope Gallery, Cavaniglia will present objects from the museum’s collections, including optical instruments and glass from the ancient world, alongside some of her own recent works.

She has also selected to display artworks from the collection by Lily Greenham (1924–2001), and Martha Boto (1925–2004).

At scale teaching models held by a gloved hand

Anatomical model of the human eye, 1950-1990, Unknown; Mathematical model cone, late 19th Century, Kennedy Albert Hamilton, United States of America. Photo by David James.

Models of insight and inspiration 

19 July until June 2025 

Through altering scale, teaching models make the miniature visible and the massive understandable. Single cells can be expanded by a magnitude of thousands and a whole suburb shrunk to the size of a tabletop.  

Micro:Macro presents models which have been an inherent part of the University of Sydney’s teaching since the late 19th century in disciplines including architecture, medicine, veterinary science and engineering. Early models of wax, papier-mâché, glass, iron and brass are artworks in themselves while later models employ methods such as 3D-printing. All contribute to our understanding of the world, giving visibility to the unknown. 

Old photo of students dancing in a hall

Max Dupain, silver gelatin print, gift of Diana Dupain, 1947-1951, reproduced courtesy of Chau Chak Wing Museum. 

Student life
Max Dupain at the University of Sydney 

9 August 2024-August 2025  

Considered by many to be Australia’s most famous modernist photographer, Max Dupain (1911-1992) spent a period in the early 1950s documenting student life at the University of Sydney. The resulting body of work represents Dupain’s foray into modernism, combining architectural backdrops with candid studies of student life at work and play. Student Life is a brilliant and hilarious series of formal and surprisingly informal photographs which astutely observe Sydney's cultural shift in the immediate post war years.   


The potter's quarter 

24 August until August 2025 

Following a week-long residency at the museum in February, seven leading Australian ceramics artists produced new works based on the museum’s extensive collections.  

The commissioned works draw on objects ranging from ancient Cypriot motherhood figurines to nineteenth century trade beads. Kerameikos provides a fresh perspective on one of Australia’s oldest museum collections. They have been created by: Vipoo Srivilasa, Glenn Barkley, Juz Kitson, Idil Abdullahi, Kirsten Coelho, Janet Fieldhouse and Monica Rani Rudhar.  

Text printed onto fabric material

Cyrus Tang, ‘The Modern World Encyclopedia’, 2017. Courtesy of the artist and Arc One Gallery, Melbourne. Image credit: Cyrus Tang. 

The trace is not a presence ...  

24 August until August 2025 

The latest show in the museum’s China Gallery brings together the work of five contemporary Australian artists from Chinese diasporic communities.   

The exciting works in The trace is not a presence ... include paintings, sculptures, installations, videos and prints connecting artists’ material histories with the present. The works often draw on iconography and materials familiar to many, but reconfigured and adapted to tell personal stories from artists’ personal stories. Featured artists include Cyrus Tang, Jenna Lee and Louise Zhang. 

Artwork depicting students marching

John Young, May Day March, 1974. Donated by the University of Sydney Union 2019. 

Union Made
Art from the University of Sydney Union 

24 August until June 2025  

This show reveals major artworks from the largest collection amassed by an Australian student union. The union was prescient in acquiring important works by Indigenous artists as Robert Campbell Jr and Emily Kame Kngwarreye. The collection includes major Australian modernists such as John Coburn, Sandra Leveson and Richard Larter, and European masters including Albrecht Dürer and Maurice de Vlaminck. Celebrating the University of Sydney Union’s (USU) 150th anniversary, this enlightening exhibition recognises the power of art to shape thinking and enrich the student experience. Union Made is a collaboration between the Chau Chak Wing Museum and USU. 

Two old fashioned tools that have previously been used to teach physiology

 Kymograph, Transferred from the School of Medical Sciences, Discipline of Physiology, The University of Sydney 2020, Unknown; Compound molecular microscope, 1920-1945, W Watson & Sons Ltd, England; Enlarged model of the human eye, 19th Century, Unknown.


9 August until August 2025 

The next iteration of of our ongoing exhibition, Instrumental includes a range of tools that have been used to teach physiology. 

Physiology has been taught at the University since 1884, with instruments a key part of the curriculum from the outset. 

Jocelyn Prasad

Media and Public Relations Advisor

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