Touring exhibition: Beauty from nature: art of the Scott Sisters

The Scott sisters were among the first to illustrate the life histories and immature stages of Australian moths and butterflies.

Scott Sisters' Diary

Scott Sisters' Diary
Photographer: Matthew Stephens © Matthew Stephens

Beautiful and intricate, this stunning exhibition features up to 50 professionally mounted and framed delicate watercolours, as well as rarely-seen notebooks, handwritten manuscripts, sketches and letters, which together form a fascinating record of the lives of Harriet (Hattie) and Helena (Nellie) Scott.

Turn back the pages as you uncover the captivating story of these two extraordinary women whose love of nature and tremendous skill in rendering its beauty enabled them to distinguish themselves amid the male-dominated world of 19th century science. Many of their scientific illustrations are still used by scientists today.

The Scott sisters were among the first to illustrate the life histories and immature stages of Australian moths and butterflies. They were meticulous and understood the biology of their subjects in great detail.

The highlights of the exhibition are watercoloured paintings created between 1846 and 1851 for their father A.W Scott’s landmark publication Australian Lepidoptera and their Transformations.
Considered the finest examples of the sisters’ work, the paintings feature caterpillars in life-like poses, gorgeous butterflies, native flowers and stunning landscapes.

This is a rare chance for visitors to step back in time and absorb these watercolours while admiring the simple beauty of 19th century nature through the eyes of two young women whose pioneering work was praised for both the art and the science.

The exhibition is available for a maximum period of 10 weeks due to conservation requirements. Up to 50 framed original watercoulours are available. A selection of objects are available upon request and dependant on environmental conditions of hosting venues.

Exhibition specifications: Wall space of 35m for up to 50 single hung frames

Special Requirements: 24 hour security; climate & lighting control; an Australian Museum staff member is required to attend install.

Accompanying Material Available: Graphics package, video footage and high res images of Ash Island.

Education Resources

Educate and engage your audiences with these exciting education programs.

Borrow our Insects Museum in a Box®. Each box contains a collection of real Museum specimens and objects, education resources, dioramas and information.

Conduct field studies and invertebrate surveys using our Bugwise resources.

Connect with us virtually. Access the Australian Museum's collection and experts through our video conferences.


Louise Teteris

Project Coordinator – Touring Exhibitions

Touring Itinerary


Louise Teteris , Project Coordinator – Touring Exhibitions
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