Australian Museum

Alexander has left the building

Our 'Alexander the Great: 2000 years of treasures' exhibition finished on 28 April 2013.

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"Alexander the Great" Reviews

"Wonderful exhibition - it had us all captivated for a couple of hours. Museum staff were very helpful. The museum shop is great too - could have easily spent a small fortune!"

"Very enjoyable 3 hours spent looking over the Alexander the Great exhibition. Very well laid out and detailed explanations provided as well."

"The Alexander the Great exhibit on loan from Russia is well worth the entry fee (AUD$12). The exhibit is memorable for being a presentation and learning experience rather than simply a display of artifacts."

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Mantel clock ‘The vigil of Alexander the Great’
Bronze, cast, embossed, gilded
Probably St Petersburg, Russia, 1820–1830

This clock, made by Russian artists, is based on the well-known work by French master Louis Lenoir-Ravrio. The centre piece – inspired by the famous ancient sculpture Mars Ludovisi, now in the National Museum in Rome – is decorated with a peaceful story from the life of Alexander. In this story, the young Alexander, determined to strengthen his concentration and willpower, would hold a ball while studying. If he became too relaxed or sleepy, the ball would clatter noisily onto a copper dish and wake him.


Statue of Dionysus: Roman copy of Greek original from late 4th – early 3rd century BCE
Frascati, Italy, 2nd century CE

Dionysus was the Greek god of wine, madness and theatre. He was popular in Macedon and Alexander’s mother Olympias was a devotee, so Alexander knew him from a young age. Dionysus was a guiding star on Alexander’s eastern campaign. Historians used Dionysus to create the myth of Alexander as the god was seen as a bringer of culture and had travelled in the east. Conversely, myths of Dionysus were enriched by Alexander’s campaigns. No myth existed about Dionysus in India prior to Alexander; however, the presence of ivy in the Khyber Pass encouraged Alexander to think he was following in Dionysus’ footsteps and the myth soon ‘appeared’.

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