The Remarkable Tasmanian Devil

Devil at Bonorong

Visitors will be able to gain a fresh perspective on one of Tasmania’s most unique animals this summer, thanks to an exciting new exhibition at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery (TMAG).

The Remarkable Tasmanian Devil is all about the devil you know, but more importantly, the devil you don’t.

Australia’s largest marsupial carnivore, the Tasmanian devil has historically been viewed as a vicious predator with few redeeming features, and a threat to the island’s agriculture.

However, recently the devil’s image has been transformed through publicity surrounding the devastating Tasmanian Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).

But rather than just a cartoonish menace or the victim of an incurable cancer, the exhibition portrays the devil as a remarkable survivor – a species that (so far) is beating the odds.

TMAG Director Janet Carding says the exhibition is sure to fascinate and educate visitors of all ages.

The Remarkable Tasmanian Devil shows that the devil is a unique species, integral to Tasmania’s ecological and cultural landscape,” Ms Carding said.

“Through exploring aspects of devil biology, ecology and behaviour, visitors will be able to learn why the devil has endured when Tasmania’s other large predator, the thylacine, succumbed within 150 years of European arrival.”

GP Harris

The Remarkable Tasmanian Devil explores a range of perspectives on the devil, from little-known historical tales to stories from pioneering scientific researchers.

Visitors will be able to learn more about devil behaviour and explore cutting-edge science through a range of interactive experiences, including a simulation of what it’s like to be a young naturalist on the trail of the devil in a special in-gallery night-time experience, created with younger patrons in mind.

Other highlights include specially commissioned and loaned works by Tasmanian artists Vicki West, Michael McWilliams, Raymond Arnold and Matt Calvert, offering an artistic response to this misunderstood creature.

TMAG has worked with a range of partners throughout Tasmania to bring the devil’s story to light and show how efforts are continuing to combat DFTD, including the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program, Devils@Cradle, the Menzies Institute for Medical Research, the University of Tasmania, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and the Tasmanian Land Conservancy.

“It is our hope that visitors will leave the exhibition with not only a better understanding of the devil’s history and biology, but also energised to make sure that the devil doesn’t meet the same fate as its fellow marsupial carnivore, the thylacine,” Ms Carding said.

“There are simple actions we can all take, such as slowing down and driving more carefully at night to prevent killing devils on our roads.

“I am sure The Remarkable Tasmanian Devil will alter our visitors’ perceptions of what is an extraordinary Tasmanian animal.”

Accompanying the exhibition is an extensive public program of events, talks and educational programming beginning in December and continuing throughout the summer into 2018.

Kicking off TMAG’s devil festivities – and before the festive season sets in – is a special devil-themed Family Day on Sunday 10 December, offering visitors the chance to get their first look at the exhibition and enjoy a range of free activities for all ages.

This exhibition has been supported by the Tasmanian Community Fund.

The Remarkable Tasmanian Devil is on show in Argyle Galleries 1-3 at the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery from 8 December 2017 until 6 May 2018. For more information, visit the website.

Mary Roberts zoo

Image details:
(top) A Tasmanian devil at Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, near Hobart, 2017.
(middle) Description of two new species of Didelphis from Van Diemen’s land by G P Harris (detail). Published in the Transactions of the Linnean Society of Londonvol. 9 (1808). Courtesy Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW.
(bottom) A Tasmanian devil at Mary Roberts’ zoo in Battery Point, early 20th century. Collection: Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery