Woman with model tram

Matilda Vaughan

Curator, Engineering

About me

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I work as a curator with a focus on the material culture of the history and achievements of Victoria’s engineering industries and their influence on Australia’s manufacturing environment. 

I have always been curious about how and why things are made, which led me towards university studies in engineering.  My professional engineering career was in the food and dairy industries, working in research & development, and process and project engineering, in manufacturing plants in Australia and Europe. 

As my interests grew more towards historical engineering technology and industrial processes, I undertook further studies in museums and heritage and began volunteering for the museum’s working machines program.  Since 2010 I have been working with the History & Technology collections, cataloguing and photographing objects and documents and was appointed Curator of Engineering in August 2012.

My current role enhances the visibility of our collection, through the documentation, research and collection of the material culture of historic & contemporary engineering, in areas such as energy technology, manufacturing industries, trades, materials science, machine & hand tools, and trade literature.  I find all sorts of artefacts fascinating and especially those that can tell a story about industry, technology and society.  I contribute to collections development, conservation projects, displays, exhibitions, and public programs.


High Risk Work Licence, Intermediate Boiler

Grad Dip, Museum Studies, Deakin University, Melbourne

Grad Dip, Applied Science, Melbourne University

Grad Dip, Management, Swinburne Institute of Technology, Melbourne

BEng, Mechanical Engineering (Hons), Swinburne Institute of Technology, Melbourne


Projects and events


Since 2012 I have been working one day a week as a project curator for the restoration of the Great Melbourne Telescope, the largest object in the museum’s Science & Measurement collection, developing further understanding of the nineteenth century materials and manufacturing processes used to construct the telescope.  I also tweet the project’s progress @GMT21stC



  • Heritage Machinery Operator, Machines in Action Days, Scienceworks (2007 – 2017)
  • Heritage Machinery Operator, Inaugural Sentinel Steam Waggon Trek, Ballarat to Beaufort, 2015
  • Heritage Machinery Operator, Sentinel Steam Waggon, Lake Goldsmith Rally, 2015


Vaughan, M. 2015. Preservation versus restoration: a curatorial approach at Museum Victoria. The Tool Chest, Journal of the Hand Tool Preservation Association of Australia, February 2015, Volume 27 Number 1 Issue 115, pp.1-11, 15.

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