Museums Victoria

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Museums Victoria
Melbourne Museum (217000837).jpeg
Melbourne Museum, Museums Victoria's main campus
Interactive fullscreen map
Former name
Museum of Victoria, Museum Victoria
LocationMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
Coordinates37°48′11.783″S 144°58′18.268″E / 37.80327306°S 144.97174111°E / -37.80327306; 144.97174111Coordinates: 37°48′11.783″S 144°58′18.268″E / 37.80327306°S 144.97174111°E / -37.80327306; 144.97174111
TypeNatural history, cultural history, and science and technology
FounderFrederick McCoy
CEOLynley Crosswell

Museums Victoria is an organisation which operates three major state-owned museums in Melbourne, Victoria: the Melbourne Museum, the Immigration Museum and Scienceworks Museum. It also manages the Royal Exhibition Building and a storage facility in Melbourne's City of Merri-bek.

Exterior of the Immigration Museum, which occupies the former Melbourne Customs House.
The Royal Exhibition Building, which is a World Heritage listed site.


The museum traces its history back to the establishment of the "Museum of Natural and Economic Geology" by the Government of Victoria, William Blandowski and others in 1854.

The Library, Museums and National Gallery Act 1869 incorporated the Museums with the Public Library and the National Gallery of Victoria; but this administrative connection was severed in 1944 when the Public Library, National Gallery and Museums Act came into force, and they became four separate institutions once again.[1]

Museums Victoria was founded in its current form under the Australian Museums Act (1983).[2] Currently, Museums Victoria's State Collections holds over 17 million items, including objects relating to Indigenous Australian and Pacific Islander cultures, geology, historical studies, palaeontology, technology & society, and zoology[3][4] Museums Victoria also contains a library collection that holds some of Australia’s rarest and finest examples of 18th and 19th century scientific monographs and serials.[5]

Significant events in the Museum's history include:

  • 1854 – Founding of the "Museum of Natural and Economic Geology" by William Blandowski and others; Blandowski oversees the museum
  • 1856 – Collections moved to the University of Melbourne in Parkville by Frederick McCoy
  • 1858 – McCoy appointed first "director" of the museum
  • 1862 – New building opens on University site, museum renamed "National Museum of Victoria"
  • 1869 – National Museum, embryotic Industrial & Technological (I&T) Museum, National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) and Public Library of Victoria merged into a single body
  • 1870 – I&T Museum opened on Swanston Street site (behind the Public Library)[6]
  • 1893 – I&T Museum opens new building on Russell St as part of Library complex
  • 1899 – National Museum moved to I&T Museum's building, and takes over its mineral collection; rest of I&T Museum put into storage
  • 1915 – I&T Museum reopens in Library's now surplus Queens Hall, thanks largely to George Swinburne and John Monash
  • 1927 – National Museum acquired the H. L. White Collection of Australian native bird eggs
  • 1944 – Museums organisationally re-separated from Library, NGV and each other; all remain in one building
  • 1945 – I&T Museum renamed Museum of Applied Science (MAS)
  • 1946 – MAS takes over Melbourne Observatory
  • 1969 – NGV moves to St Kilda Rd, MAS moves into its old buildings, Library gets back Queens Hall
  • 1961 – Museum of Applied Science renamed Institute of Applied Science
  • 1971 – Institute of Applied Science renamed Science Museum of Victoria
  • 1981 – Museum Station opened, providing train services
  • 1983 – National Museum of Victoria and Science Museum of Victoria amalgamated to form the Museum of Victoria (NMV)[7]
  • 1992 – Scienceworks opened in Spotswood
  • 1997 – Swanston Street campus closed
  • 1998 – Museum of Victoria renamed Museum Victoria; Immigration and Hellenic Antiquities Museum opened
  • 2000 – Melbourne Museum at Carlton Gardens opened
  • 2016 – Museum Victoria renamed Museums Victoria


The present chief executive officer of Museums Victoria is Lynley Crosswell (formerly Marshall), who was previously the head of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s international arm. Crosswell is the first woman to lead the organisation in its history.[8]

Former directors include:


The Museums Victoria Library collection was first established in the 1850s as a working collection for the Museum's curators, and has developed into one of the best collections of natural history books and journals in Australia. The library was located at Melbourne University until 1906 when it moved, with the museum, to be co-located with the Public Library.[9]

Today, the library collection is located at Melbourne Museum and contains 40,000 titles, which includes around 1,000 titles that are considered to be rare due to one or a combination of factors, including: value; scarcity; aesthetic qualities; historic, scientific or institutional significance; fragility; or age.[10] Collection strengths include natural history in the fields of zoology, geology and palaeontology, scientific expedition reports, society and institutional journal titles, Indigenous cultures of Australia and the Pacific, Australian history, technology, colonial and other exhibition catalogues, museum studies, and Museums Victoria publications.[11]

Many items from the Museums Victoria Library have been digitised for the Biodiversity Heritage Library[12] as Museums Victoria is the home to the Australian node of this project. The digitisation operation is hosted by Museums Victoria and is nationally funded by the Atlas of Living Australia.[13]

Significant works[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The history of the State Library of Victoria". Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  2. ^ "Museums Act 1983". Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  3. ^ Clode, Danielle (2006). Continent of Curiosities: A Journey Through Australian Natural History. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-86620-0.
  4. ^ "Descriptions of the collections held at Museums Victoria". Museums Victoria Collections. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  5. ^ Stephens, Matthew Sean (2013). The Australian Museum Library: its formation, function and scientific contribution, 1836-1917 (Thesis). University of New South Wales, School of Humanities.
  6. ^ "Opening of the Industrial & Technological Museum, Melbourne, 9 September 1870". Museums Victoria Collections.
  7. ^ "Museum Victoria". GBIF.
  8. ^ Northover, Kylie (1 January 2018). "Lunch with Lynley Marshall: 'every day is a magic day'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  9. ^ Stephens, Matthew Sean (2013). The Australian Museum Library: its formation, function and scientific contribution, 1836-1917 (Thesis). University of New South Wales, School of Humanities.
  10. ^ Webster, H (2019). "Rare Books in Museums Victoria Collections". Museums Victoria Collections. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Library and archives". Museums Victoria. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  12. ^ "Browse Museums Victoria - Biodiversity Heritage Library". Biodiversity Heritage Library. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  13. ^ "BHL Australia". Biodiversity Heritage Library. Retrieved 23 April 2020.

External links[edit]