Culture Victoria

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Museum Victoria

Carlton Gardens, 11 Nicholson Street CARLTON Phone: 131 102 Visit Website

Museum Victoria, Australia's largest public museums organisation, is responsible for the care of the State's collections. It operates three of the State of Victoria's major museums.

Melbourne Museum uses the latest technology and innovative interpretation methods in its displays, which include a living Forest Gallery of over 8000 plants, a Children's Museum, an IMAX theatre and Bunjilaka - the Aboriginal Centre and a touring exhibition hall and the Royal Exhibition Building.

Scienceworks is a dynamic interactive science and technology museum combining the Melbourne Planetarium.

Melbourne's Immigration Museum brings to life the stories of people who have journeyed from all over the world to resettle in Australia.

Our Collection

This Victorian State Collection is managed by Museum Victoria, Australia's largest public museum organisation. Museum Victoria displays and provides access to the collection at three museum venues: Melbourne Museum, Immigration Museum and Scienceworks. Museum Victoria is also custodian of the World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building. The collection of more than 16.8 million items is organised in two major sub-collections: Sciences: comprising approximately 15.7 million geological and biological specimens and an extensive tissue bank and recent field collecting that record Australian and worldwide fauna (both living and extinct) and biodiversity for scientific research and public education. Humanities: encompassing indigenous cultures, comprising just over 300 000 internationally significant items of indigenous contemporary art, ethnography, archaeology, including artefacts, photographs, archival documents, and film and sound recordings, spanning Aboriginal Australia (especially south-eastern, central and northern Australia), the Pacific, Africa and the Americas); and history and technology, comprising approximately 200 000 objects, 200 000 images, 75 000 numismatics and philately items and 60 000 items of trade literature documenting Victoria's history in a national and international context, so as to facilitate the community's understanding of the past and engagement with issues affecting our future. These collections are a result of collecting by the National Museum of Victoria, the state's first museum (established in 1854), the Industrial and Technological Museum of Victoria, later known as the Science Museum (established in 1870), and Museum Victoria (established in 1983 through a merger of the earlier institutions). Together, the collections document the nature of and changes to Australia's natural environment, and the lives of people living in the State and its region. The collections are held in high-quality stores at Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and a specialised storage facility.

This Victorian State Collection is of international, national, state and local scientific and cultural significance as a resource for research, public education and entertainment.

Sciences Collections

The Sciences collections date back to the first years of the National Museum of Victoria, established in 1854, when the founding director, Professor Frederick McCoy, commenced an active program of acquiring Australian and foreign specimens. Since those early years, field-collecting programs, donations, purchases and exchanges with other museums and private collectors have contributed to the growth of these collections. The museum is the repository for specimens collected during scientific studies and surveys by museum staff, university researchers and students, as well as scientists from government agencies. Comprising approximately 15.7 million specimens, the collections are most often thought of as a source of content for exhibition and education programs, however only a small percentage are on exhibit at any one time. The specimens are maintained for study by scientists in government and private industry, amateur naturalists, artists, media and the general public. They are a record of our biodiversity and underpin information such as species identifications and distribution data supplied to a wide range of government agencies as well as many companies and individuals in the private sector. Major collecting areas include: Herpetology, Ichthyology, Invertebrate Palaeontology (Stratigraphic and Taxonomic), Mammalogy, Marine Invertebrates, Meteorite and Tektite/Impactites, Micropalaeontology, Mineralogy, Ornithology, Palaeobotany, Rocks and Ores, Scientific Artwork and Images, Tissue and DNA, Terrestrial Invertebrates, Vertebrate Palaeontology.

Indigenous Cultures Collection

The Indigenous Cultures collections comprise internationally significant collections of indigenous art, ethnographic artefacts, archaeological items, photographs, archival documents, and film and sound recordings, spanning Aboriginal Australia (especially SE, central and N Australia), the Pacific, Africa and the Americas).  Their origins lie in the 19th century collections of the National Museum of Victoria, Industrial and Technological Museum, National Gallery of Victoria and Public Library. Material has been continually acquired throughout the 20th century by way of field collecting, donation and some significant loans. The collection continues to be developed in the 21st century via strategic acquisitions that both complement the existing collection and push it into new areas of cultural relevance, in conjunction with Indigenous communities. Strengths and outstanding material include: Aboriginal possum skin cloaks and bark etchings and paintings; South-eastern Australian photographic collection; Walter B. Spencer collection; Donald Thomson collection (loan); Solomon Island and Fijian collections; and an Egyptian mummy Tjeby the Elder. Special note: Museum Victoria is committed to repatriation of ancestral and ceremonial material in consultation with Aboriginal and Indigenous communities.

History & Technology Collection

The History and Technology sub-collection documents Victoria’s history in a national and international context, so as to facilitate the community’s understanding of the past and engagement with issues affecting our future. The development of the Technology collections commenced in the 1850s, when Frederick McCoy, Director of the National Museum of Victoria, purchased and commissioned a substantial number of mining and machinery models. The History collection formally commenced in 1986, with a new focus on the social history of Victoria and Australia. The History and Technology collections were formed in 2001 by combining the two separate collections, and comprise 260 000 objects, 300 000 images and 42 000 items of trade literature. Strengths and outstanding material include: Australian children’s folklore; historical archaeological material including the Little Lonsdale Street Collection; history of Melbourne and Victoria; numismatics; technology, industry and work; trade literature; trade union banners; CSIRAC computer; Harry John’s boxing truck; Phar Lap; and the Royal Exhibition Building.


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