portrait of woman

Bec Carland

Senior Curator, History of Collections & Scientific Art

About me

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I am a history curator with broad responsibility across all collections within the state collection. I collect, research and interpret objects for use in exhibitions, publications and public programs.

My curatorial practice centres on how these collections have evolved across all disciplines - Natural Sciences, First Peoples, Social History and Technology. This work allows me to explore notions of exploration and discovery, indigenous knowledge systems, colonial collecting practices, women in science and notions of nature and conservation. I also curate the scientific art collection and act as field historian for the sciences department at Museums Victoria. I also co-convene the museum lecture series.

I have worked on many of Museums Victoria's most notable contemporary collecting projects such as the Victorian Bushfires collection, established in the wake of the devastating Black Saturday event in 2009. I am currently working on the cross-disciplinary project 'Collecting The Curve', which documents the experience and impact of the Covid 19 pandemic in Victoria.

Much of my work involves community engagement which involves establishing and nurturing relationships both locally and internationally to seek guidance and permission to share language, knowledge and story: from youth protesters in country Victoria to First Nations communities across the globe, the work is complex and rewarding.

My favourite museum object at the moment is an object collected by my colleague Dr. Johanna Simkin. The amazing Doherty Institute image of SARS-CoV-2 by Dr Jason Roberts, Head of the Electron Microscopy and Structural Virology Laboratory at the Doherty Institute in Parkville, Victoria taken on Friday, 31 January 2020. These Victorian scientists were the first researchers outside of China to grow the 2019 novel coronavirus in cell culture which in turn has allowed accurate investigation and diagnosis of the virus globally.


Ba. Hist (hons)

Key publications

2021 Carland, Rebecca. UK Collecting the Curve: Documenting the Pandemic, International Work, Oral History Journal UK, pp 27-28, Spring.

2020 Carland, Rebecca. Reconnecting the Yaghan community to cultural belongings 90 years on, Artlink Magazine: INDIGENOUS Kin Constellations, Languages • Waters • Futures, Editors: Léuli Eshraghi and Kimberley Moulton Issue 40:2 | June. 

2019 Carland, Rebecca. Lost In Translation, Discipline No. 5 / Mas alla del fin, edited by Helen Hughes and David Homewood (Discipline No. 5); and Carla Macchiavello and Camila Marambio (Más allá del fin No. 3).

2018 Clemann, Stranks, Carland, Melville, op den Brouw and Robertson 2018. The death adder Acanthophis antarcticus (Shaw & Nodder, 1802) in Victoria: historical records and contemporary uncertainty Memoirs of Museum Victoria 77: 29–40 (2018) 1447-2554 (On-line)
DOI https://doi.org/10.24199/j.mmv.2018.77.03

2016 Bell J., Carland, R., Fraser, P. and Thomson A. 2016. ‘History is a conversation’: teaching student historians through making digital histories, History Australia, 13:3, 415-430.

2015 Dale-Hallett, Liza, Carland, Rebecca and Fraser, Peg. 2015. Sites of trauma: contemporary collecting and natural disaster. Pp 531-552 in: Andrea Witcomb and Kylie Message (Eds), The International Handbooks of Museum Studies, Volume 3, Museum Theory, Wiley Blackwell: UK.

2008 Contributing author, Deborah Tout-Smith (ed) Gold Town 1850-1860: A Little Grey Falcon. Melbourne; A City of Stories, Museum Victoria

2005 John Kean and Rebecca Carland ‘Natural observations: the artists of Frederick McCoy’s zoology of Victoria’, Victorian Naturalist, Vol 122 (6) Dec


Projects and events

Board and Committee Positions

MV Lectures Committee 2019 - Present

Vice President - Museum Historian’ National Network (Australian Museums and Galleries Association) 2018–Present

Vice President - Professional Historians Association (Victoria) 2015–2018

MV Oral History Committee 2014–2017

Victorian History Week Committee (MV & PHA) 2012–2017

Chair - Women on Farm Heritage Committee 2007–2008

Editorial committee member - Lilith: Feminst History Journal 2007–2009


2006 ICOM, Prix Web’Art d’Argent de l’exposition virtuelle Silver Medal, On-line Exhibition for Caught & Coloured Website (Project Award)

2006 McFarlane Prize for Excellence in Australian Web Design for Caught & Coloured Website (Project Award)

2005 Museum Victoria 1854 Scholarship (Individual Award)

2004 Shortlist – Henry Gyles Turner Prize in History Writing (Individual Award)

Teaching and students

Courses taught

Making History, Monash University

MDS: McCoy’s Museum, Melbourne Univiersity

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