Scientists Take the Museum to Whyalla

03 June 2016

Whyalla outreach 2

Dr Catherine Kemper, Senior Research Scientist - Mammals, talking about her research on dolphins in the Upper Spencer Gulf

It’s spawning time for Giant Australian Cuttlefish in the shallow waters near Whyalla, so there’s no better place for senior South Australian Museum scientists to be this week. But the scientists won’t be in Whyalla to perform cuttlefish research. They will be there to engage with people who don’t often have the chance to visit the Museum in Adelaide, and to talk about Whyalla’s unique biological environment.

In a ground-breaking move, the South Australian Museum established Australia’s first museum outreach program 13 years ago. Since then the Out of the Glass Case roadshow has annually reached 40,000 people in regional and remote South Australia, including the APY Lands, the Riverland and now, Whyalla.

Minister for the Arts, the Hon. Jack Snelling, said that Out of the Glass Case takes elements of the Museum’s extensive scientific and cultural collections to primary and senior school children, as well as adults.

“These roadshows provide a unique opportunity for communities to meet, listen and learn from senior Museum research scientists,” said Minister Snelling.

“Our programmers and scientists base the content of each roadshow on the unique environment of the places visited” he said.

Senior scientists on the Whyalla trip include Professor Steve Donnellan, a leading evolutionary biologist, who helped identify the Giant Australian Cuttlefish (Sepia apama) as a separate species.

Also on the team is Dr Cath Kemper, Senior Research Scientist of mammals and expert in marine mammals, who has presided over the expansion of the Museum’s marine mammal collection. Among Dr Kemper’s research projects she is studying the health of dolphins in the Upper Spencer Gulf, which includes Whyalla.

“On 2 and 3 June the Whyalla Stuart Campus, Whyalla Town Primary School and Whyalla High School will visit the mobile Museum at Mount Laura Homestead in central Whyalla,” said Minister Snelling.

 There will also be on a panel at a ‘science in the pub’ session for adults on Friday, 3 June from 6-8pm. Panel members include:

•          Professor Steve Donnellan, who will talk about Giant Australian Cuttlefish spawning

•          Dr Rachel King, Research Scientist in marine invertebrates at the Museum, who will talk about groundwater biodiversity of aquifers

•          Dr Peter Shaughnessy, Honorary Research Associate at the Museum, who will talk about local sea lion populations.

“The Museum’s outreach program is unique in Australia,” said Minister Snelling.

"It’s the perfect time to focus on Whyalla’s unique biological environment and promote science through a natural event that has made the town a focus for scientific research.

"No other Museum creates tailored programs for regional and remote areas, linking the Australian curriculum to the unique environment of the places visited.

"These roadshows provide an opportunity for communities to meet, listen and learn from senior Museum research scientists."

To find out more about Out of the Glass Case visit

The Museum’s Out of the Glass Case roadshow is generously sponsored by Beach Energy, PriceWaterhouseCoopers and the Wood Foundation.


For more information contact: Andrea Murphy, Manager Communications and Marketing, 0475 834 072; or Thea Williams, Communications Officer, 0466 389 019