Valerie Taylor: An Underwater Life

30 November 2023 - 31 August 2024


Dive into the remarkable world of an Australian marine pioneer

Valerie Taylor has recorded the marine environment and shared her knowledge with the public for over 60 years, staunchly advocating for better protection of the ocean, its animals and their habitats.

Celebrated globally, Valerie has become one of the most iconic underwater storytellers, shark researchers and conservationists and paved the way for future generations of divers, filmmakers and environmentalists.

This exhibition tells the extraordinary story of the life of Valerie Taylor. Through objects and images from the museum's collection, Valerie Taylor: An Underwater Life showcases the work of Valerie and her husband Ron and their significant contributions to marine conservation, diving and underwater filming.

Highlights of the exhibition include Valerie and Ron Taylor’s cameras and underwater housings, Valerie’s iconic blue fins and dive suits, and the stainless-steel chainmail suit she wore to get up close and personal with sharks, movie posters from over four decades working in Hollywood, from Jaws to The Island of Dr Moreau, and over 500 images from our collection of animals, people, places and worlds now under threat. 

Valerie Taylor: An Underwater Life is not just one woman’s story, it is a call to action for all the potential ocean changemakers out there—to inspire all of us to advocate for the oceans in our own way.

“The first great white shark I saw was like a freight train coming out of the mist… it was magnificent.” 

Valerie Taylor

Macrophotography digital interactive

In the early 1970s, Ron made Valerie the first known macrophotography set up for an underwater camera, with extension tubes and framers. This technique reveals the tiny hidden wonders of our world, resulting in a picture that appears larger than it is in real life.  

Concept Artist:  Irenaeus Herok
Music and Sound composer:  Gary Sinclair
Creative Producer & Designer:  Anna Fraser
Interactive build:  Junior Major 



Images donated by Valerie Taylor through the Australian Cultural Gifts Program in memory of Ron Taylor.

ANMS1456[144] Valerie and Ron Taylor ready to spearfish and capture the scene down below
ANMS1457[103] Valerie Taylor scuba diving in freshwater sinkhole ponds in South Australia, early 1980s
ANMS1457[315] Valerie Taylor scuba diving face to face with one of her favourite animals, the Australian Sea Lion.
ANMS1462[667] Valerie Taylor testing her chainmail suit while scuba diving with Blue Sharks in waters off California, USA. 
ANMS1463[086] Valerie Taylor scuba diving amongst soft corals, May 1988. 
ANMS1469[627] Valerie Taylor sitting with her still camera in its underwater housing. 

Top image: ANMS1463[115] Valerie Taylor scuba diving with a sea snake.