Vault armour vault Beechworth Historic Precinct

Sub-Treasury Building

The Ned Kelly Vault is currently closed.

The Ned Kelly Vault Exhibition has been housed in the Beechworth Historic Precinct’s Sub-Treasury Building for the last 6 years and has welcomed many Precinct visitors during that time.

The exhibition has recently closed as privately owned artefacts move on to new and future exhibitions. Of course, The Burke Museum retains its Kelly collection artefacts and we look forward to displaying them later in 2021.

As one door closes another opens!

We are delighted to have commenced the Kelly Trails Experience development in the Beechworth Historic Courthouse, where more than 40 trials of the Kelly family and sympathisers were carried out.  The Kelly Trails and Courthouse experience will be launched in 2022.

Ned Kelly death mask

Undeniably the most fascinating piece in the collection, Ned Kelly’s death mask captivates people not only because they can see the exact face of the bushranger - every lump, bump and hair - but because of its original purposes, truly compelling signs of the times...

Death Masks in the 1800s were quite a common practice in the name of a pseudoscience called phrenology: the study of lumps and bumps on the skull to point to mental traits. Kelly’s death mask was of particular interest as a way to explore his criminal tendencies, so an hour after he was hanged, his hair and beard were shaved and plaster was applied to his whole head. The very next day, the people of Bourke Street in Melbourne were looking straight at Kelly’s death mask, complete with scientific explanations of how the shape of his head and face told of criminal inclinations.

The death mask also provided a form of propaganda, a way of showing the bushranger-obsessed public how the police and authorities handle criminals.

Death mask historic precinct Ned Kelly Vault