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Title Image: At The Museum
At the Museum

Phar Lap went on display at the National Museum of Victoria in 1933. Now at Melbourne Museum, Phar Lap and associated memorabilia remain among the most popular of our exhibits.

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 Phar Lap at National Museum of Victoria
 Phar Lap at Melbourne Museum

After the Agua Caliente victory, Hollywood producers were queuing for the Phar Lap story. Phar Lap died before those meetings had time to take place. An altogether different queue formed: the directors of several institutions in Australia hot-footed it to their local post office to telegram the owners with requests for Phar Lap's mortal remains.

David Davis, with the approval of Harry Telford back home, decided on the following division. The heart would go to the National Institute of Anatomy in Canberra (now the National Museum); the skeleton would go to the Dominion Museum in New Zealand, Phar Lap's country of birth; and the hide, the most prized part, would go to the National Museum of Victoria in Melbourne, where Phar Lap won many of his richest races.

Davis heard of a firm of expert taxidermists in New York, the Jonas Brothers, and they were given the commission to provide a mount for Phar Lap's hide. Their work took four and a half months.

Then came the long journey back home. In Sydney, when the crate was opened, Tom Woodcock was among those that gasped at how life-like Phar Lap was.

The last leg of the journey was to Melbourne. As a special favour, Davis allowed the Capitol Theatre to display Phar Lap for about two weeks in late 1932. Phar Lap then journeyed the short distance up Swanston Street to the National Museum of Victoria.

Phar Lap stayed at the old museum for almost seventy years, apart from a brief visit to Flemington in 1980 to commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of his Melbourne Cup victory. In 2000, Phar Lap was moved up the hill to the new Melbourne Museum, where he stands magisterial as always, and will continue to do so for generations to come.


Photo of Jonas Brothers working on the mount

Jonas Brothers

Louis, John and Leslie Jonas had created a reputation as expert taxidermists of wild animals as exhibits for the leading natural history museums in the USA.

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© Museum Victoria Australia