Defining Decade for Queensland Museum

27 December 2019

From the discovery of a rare and ancient Book of the Dead to over 1,100 new species discovered and a brief closure due to the 2011 Floods – Queensland Museum had a defining decade.

Queensland Museum CEO and Director Dr Jim Thompson said as 2019 comes to a close, the team at the museum have reflected on a decade of achievements.

“While 10 years is just a small fraction of our 157-year history, as an organisation we have achieved great things over the past decade,” Dr Thompson said.

“As we begin 2020, we celebrate every public space in the museum open following a period of redevelopment where we opened five permanent galleries and expanded our level three to an international standard exhibition gallery of 1000 square metres.

“We welcomed more than 13.2 million visitors to Queensland Museum at South Bank and answered close to 200,000 requests through our Discovery Centre.

“Our biodiversity team have been busy describing 1,171 new species and we continued building our State Collection adding 218,232 objects and specimens since 2010.

“In 2016 we obtained exclusive rights to host the only extension of New York’s World Science Festival and launched World Science Festival Brisbane with a visit from Hollywood great Alan Alda and since then have welcomed 708,590 visitors to the festival, as well as hatching 220 baby loggerhead turtles at our popular hatchery during the event.

“Our museum volunteers have clocked up more than 200,000 hours and our team have distributed 748,307 loans kits around Queensland reaching more than 8 million people.

“It has been a decade for breaking records with the most visitors to an exhibition with 240,061 visitors to NASA – A Human Adventure, and our highest ever single visitation day happened on 25 March 2017 with 29.099 people.”

All the numbers…


  • 13,229,143 visitors to Queensland Museum
  • 741,473 visitors to Cobb+Co Museum in Toowoomba
  • 838,447 visitors to The Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich
  • 913,561 visitors to Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville
  • On Saturday, 25 March 2017 29,099 people visited Queensland Museum – the highest daily visitation record
  • Over 210,000 visitors to A Day Out with Thomas at The Workshops Rail Museum
  • Since 2016, 27,968 people attended Night at the Museum, After Dark and Goodnight at the Museum sleepover

New Species 

  • 1,171 new species described
  • 18 new species of fish including the infamous ‘Blue Bastard’
  • Some sparkling new species of spiders named for stars including Brian Greene, Bob Marley, Mick Fanning, Terri Irwin, Li Cunxin, Dame Judy Dench, Jack Nicolson and Karl Lagerfeld.

State Collection

  • 218,232 items added to the State Collection (current 1.2 million objects).
  • 80,224 objects and specimens loaned to external researchers
  • 786,326 objects published online -
  • Over 100 fragments from a significant Book of the Dead held by British Museum was discovered in Queensland Museum’s collection in 2012. The owner is named as the Chief Builder of the temple of Amun: Amenhotep. This man is believed to have held office in the reign of King Amenhotep II (the great-great grandfather of Tutankhamun)
  • Mephisto moved 5 times travelling more than 2,600 kilometres
  • In 2011, the Queensland Museum’s insect collections doubled in size when the University of Queensland Insect Collection was donated to the museum; we now have an estimated 3.5 million insect specimens
  • In 2012 donations of private collections of dragonflies and damselflies numbering close to 7000 specimens, more than doubled the Queensland Museum’s holding of these iconic insects
  • More than 13,000 butterflies donated by private collectors to Queensland Museum
  • Queensland Museum has the world’s largest collection of Australian Dung Beetles and the collection is being databased with more than 81,000 specimens now available online via Atlas of Living Australia
  • Arachnology registered over 30,000 specimens

World Science Festival Brisbane

  • 708,590 visitors to World Science Festival Brisbane since 2016
  • 220 baby loggerhead turtles hatched and released during World Science Festival Brisbane

Other Museum numbers

  • 40 days closed because of the 2011 Floods
  • Over 200,000 hours from volunteers at the museum
  • Close to 200,000 requests through Discovery Centre via email, phone and post
  • 748,307 Loans Kits distributed around Queensland reaching more than 8 million people
  • 10,608 copies of the Queensland Museum publication Wildlife of Greater Brisbane sold
  • Launched The Repatriation Fund This funding allows the Queensland Museum Network to work with communities to repatriate Ancestral Remains, Burial Goods and Secret and/or Sacred Objects to their community of origin.

Top 10 Species Described by Queensland Museum Scientists 2010 - 2019


Desisbobmarleyi is a small spider with a 6mm long body and long hair like his namesake. It uses this long hair on its legs and abdomen to create an air bubble around its middle that enables it to breathe and survive between the high and low tide zones. During high tide these extremely rare and unusual animals hide in the air chambers, but during low tide they are vagrant hunters found on corals, barnacles or debris. It was this behaviour that inspired us to name this new intertidal species in honour of Bob Marley’s hit song High Tide or Low Tide, which played during our field research in Queensland’s Port Douglas.

Saltuarius eximius

A spectacular leaf-tailed gecko from Cape Melville, north-eastern Queensland, which was listed by Suny College of Environmental Science and Forestry (New York) as one of the top ten species (globally) for 2014.

Jotus karllagerfeldi

A species of jumping spider of the genus Jotus described in 2019. The name of the species karllagerfeldi was chosen as the black and white spider was "reminiscent of the signature look" of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. The spider was found near Lake Broadwater, a lake near Dalby, Queensland.

Burwellia staceythomsonae,

Ranger Stacey's Pinwheel Snail' is about .25 of a millimetre and very intricate. It has all the attributes of a rainforest relict and is known only from a single shell specimen from the higher reaches of Mt Dalrymple (altitude 1144 m).

Litoria pinocchio

A remarkable tree frog from New Guinea’s rugged forest covered mountain. The small green tree frog has a small spike like a short nail protruding from the tips of it snout.

Oristicta rosendaleorum

The first new species of damselfly discovered in a decade, this new species described in 2017 is is about 4cm long and has a long, thin, mostly dark-coloured abdomen with a pale tip in the male. Damselflies are a small flying insect with two pairs of wings, similar to a dragonfly.

Pseudopataecus carnatobarbatus

The goatee Velvetfish, Pseudopataecus carnatobarbatus was described in 2012 based mainly on specimens collected from the Montgomery Reef area, Kimberley, WA – which has the highest tidal range in Australia, with spring tides of 11+ m.

This species lays among the seaweed with its extraordinarily long fins waving gently in the current, in wait for prey of small shrimps and fishes. It is named for its goatee ‘beard’, composed of numerous fleshy barbels on the chin. These break up its outline and when wiggled, help to draw in prey. It allows algae to grow on its skin for camouflage, but periodically releases the outer mucus layer to reveal the mottled reddish skin within.  Despite being a sluggish swimmer, it copes with huge daily tidal currents. Its habitat ranges from a shallow rockpool to 10 metres deep within a few hours.

Antechinus mysticus

A new dasyurid marsupial from eastern Queensland, Australia: the buff-footed Antechinus, Antechinus mysticus was found in Queensland Museum curator Steve Van Dyck’s kitchen cupboard in Samford, Queensland.

Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus 

Plectorhinchus caeruleonothus or the ‘Blue Bastard’ is a previously undescribed species of Sweetlips living on the shallow reefs of northern Australia that has remained unrecognised by science. The ‘Blue Bastard’ can grow up to one metre in length, and undergoes an amazing transformation in colouration between juvenile and adult growth stages.

The often solitary fish also exhibits a unique ‘kissing’ form of aggressive behaviour between rival males, thought be in defence of their territory, where they will rush each other and lock jaws in prolonged and violent struggles.

Bazinga rieki

Found in shallow water in the Brunswick River in northern New South Wales, the Bazinga jellyfish was named in honour of the Big Bang Theory’s character Sheldon Cooper.

Bazinga rieki could not be placed in any known family or suborder of rhizostome jellyfish, so a new family Bazingidae was erected; it represents a new sub order of Rhizostomae, called Ptychophorae. Bazinga rieki has a thick round translucent and colourless body, the aboral (upper) surface of which is covered in tiny warts with yellow centres.


  • 14 travelling exhibitions with more than 1.5 million visitors

Mummy: Secrets of the Tomb - 19 April -21 October 2012 – 207,399 visitors
Explore-a-saurus – 23 November 2012 – 14 April 2013 – 115,792 visitors
Yiwarra Kuju – 25 May – 14 July 2013 – 5,717 visitors
Afghanistan: Hidden Treasures of Kabul 5 September 2013 – 27 January 2014 – 48,161 visitors
Deep Oceans – 28 March  - 6 October 2014 – 117,464 visitors
Undressed: 350 Years of Underwear in Fashion – 12 November 2014 – 1 February 2015 – 32,835 visitors
Dinosaur Discovery: Lost Creatures of the Cretaceous – 27 March 2015 – 5 October 2015 – 231,485 visitors
Medieval Power: Symbols and Splendour – 11 December 2015 – 10 April 2016 – 83,308 visitors
Dinosaur Discovery: Lost Creatures of the Cretaceous – 21 June – 9 October 2016 – 110,111 visitors
Hadron Collider: Step Inside the World’s Greatest Experiment – 9 December 2018 – 25 April 2019 – 64,518 visitors
Gladiators: Heroes of the Colosseum – 23 June 2017 – 28 January 2018 – 85,519 visitors
Mummies: Exploring Ancient Lives – 16 March 26 August 2018 – 154,665 visitors
Monkey Business – 12 October 2018 – 28 January 2019 – 40,295 visitors
NASA – A Human Adventure – 15 March – 9 October 2019 – 240,061 visitors

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