Museums Victoria

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Museums Victoria
Melbourne Museum (217000837).jpeg
Melbourne Museum: Museums Victoria's main campus
Former nameMuseum of Victoria, Museum Victoria
LocationMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
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 Moreland.

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


The museum traces its history back to the establishment of the National Museum of Victoria in 1854 under the directorship of Frederick McCoy.[1] 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 three separate institutions once again.[2]

Museums Victoria was founded in its current form under the Australian Museums Act (1983).[3] 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[4][5] 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.[6]

Significant events in the Museum's history include:

  • 1854 – Founding of the Museum of Natural and Economic Geology with William Blandowski as Government Zoologist
  • 1856 – Collections moved to the University of Melbourne by Frederick McCoy
  • 1858 – McCoy appointed first director of the National Museum of Victoria
  • 1870 – Industrial and Technological Museum opened
  • 1899 – National Museum moved to Swanston Street, Melbourne
  • 1927 – Acquired the H. L. White Collection of the eggs of Australian native birds
  • 1945 – Industrial and Technology Museum renamed Museum of Applied Science
  • 1961 – Museum of Applied Science renamed Institute of Applied Science
  • 1971 – Institute of Applied Science renamed Science Museum of Victoria
  • 1983 – National Museum of Victoria and Science Museum of Victoria amalgamated to form the Museum of Victoria
  • 1992 – Scienceworks Museum (Melbourne) opened
  • 1997 – Swanston Street campus closed
  • 1998 – Museum of Victoria renamed Museum Victoria; Immigration Museum 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.[7]

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.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10]

Many items from the Museums Victoria Library have been digitised for the Biodiversity Heritage Library[11] 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.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Rasmussen, Carolyn (2001). A Museum for the People: A History of Museum Victoria and Its Predecessors, 1854–2000. Scribe Publications Pty Limited. ISBN 978-0-908011-69-8.
  2. ^ "The history of the State Library of Victoria". Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  3. ^ "Museums Act 1983". Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  4. ^ Clode, Danielle (2006). Continent of Curiosities: A Journey Through Australian Natural History. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-86620-0.
  5. ^ "Descriptions of the collections held at Museums Victoria". Museums Victoria Collections. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Northover, Kylie (1 January 2018). "Lunch with Lynley Marshall: 'every day is a magic day'". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 18 May 2018.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ Webster, H (2019). "Rare Books in Museums Victoria Collections". Museums Victoria Collections. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  10. ^ "Library and archives". Museums Victoria. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  11. ^ "Browse Museums Victoria - Biodiversity Heritage Library". Biodiversity Heritage Library. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  12. ^ "BHL Australia". Biodiversity Heritage Library. Retrieved 23 April 2020.

External links[edit]