Museums Victoria Archives

animal collection transport in 1899

The Museums Victoria Archives are the corporate memory of our Museum. Dating from the Museum’s foundation in 1854, these records are a rich resource for anyone wanting to learn about the development and activities of the Museum, our buildings, staff, exhibitions, programs, collections and research. Records in the Archives are preserved because of their continuing value to our staff and to the community, and are an excellent resource for scholars, researchers and interested members of the public.

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About the Archives

Archives collection

An old bound book ("Catalogue") lies on a pillow, closed. Another book is partially visible, and open, below it.
Unpublished manuscript 'Catalogue of all Specimens on Natural History collected by Mr Blandowski's Party during an expedition to the Lower Murray in 1857' by Gerard Krefft.

The Museums Victoria Archives are managed by the Records and Archives team. Records in the Archives document the Museum’s administrative, collection, exhibition, education and research history, and associated programs and activities, including business transactions documenting actions, decisions, policies and fiscal and legal rights and responsibilities of the museum.

The Archives includes records from Museums Victoria and its predecessor institutions: the National Museum of Victoria and the Science Museum of Victoria (formerly the Industrial and Technological Museum). Records date back to the National Museum’s foundation in 1854.

One of the most significant values of the Archives collection is the provenance source material, providing evidence of legal ownership and historical information about State Collection items.

The Museums Victoria Archives is affiliated with the Australian Society of Archivists. View our listing in the Australian Society of Archivists’ Directory of Archives in Australia.

Some material from the Museums Victoria Archives has been digitised and can be accessed via the Biodiversity Heritage Library. Read blog posts from our Archivist on the BHL Blog.

A number of public records related to the National Museum of Victoria, Industrial and Technological Museum, Science Museum of Victoria and Royal Exhibition Building are held at the Public Record Office Victoria. Contact Public Records Office Victoria or search their collection online if you are interested in accessing these records.

Stories from the Archives

Moth specimens in a museum collection

Butterflies of the night

The aim of the "George Lyell Collection: Australian entomology past and present" project is to examine the George Lyell collection scientifically and culturally, and to share discoveries with the wider community.

Using our services

Opening hours and contact

Handwritten list of scientific specimens with short letter at the bottom, black ink on blue paper
List of specimens sent to Baron Ferdinand Von Mueller in exchange for Australian Cassowary, Sir Frederick McCoy, 9 February 1889

Public access to records in the Archives is available by appointment, 10am-4pm Monday to Friday. Records in the Archives will be viewed in the Library Reading Room at Melbourne Museum.

To arrange a visit, first complete an enquiry providing as much information as possible about the nature of your research.

Please note that a minimum 48 hours' notice is required when requesting access to archives material. Some material is held in offsite storage and it may take longer to provide access.

Access restrictions

Access is granted at the discretion of Records and Archives staff and certain materials may be restricted. Restrictions may be imposed for reasons including, but not limited to, confidentiality, personal privacy, cultural sensitivities, special restricted access provisions, the fragility or condition of records, or because the records have not been processed and prepared for use.

We will try to make you aware of any restrictions before you visit.


If copies of material need to be made for research and reference purposes, you are welcome to bring your own digital camera.

Please note it is the visitor’s responsibility to ensure adherence to copyright law. Before an item can be reproduced in a publication or exhibition, the citation of the record and the permission of the copyright holder must be obtained.

Research enquiries

Black-and-white photo of a complete skeleton of a quadrupedal beast in a display case
Diprotodon cast on display at the National Museum of Victoria, 1968

Staff from the Records and Archives team are available to help you make full use of the Archives. We can answer requests about our holdings and provide a limited reference service, but cannot undertake detailed research on your behalf.

In most cases you will need to visit the archives in person, with staff assisting you to locate and use the relevant material. To arrange a visit, first complete an enquiry providing as much information as possible about the nature of your research. Archival research can be very time-consuming – please allow yourself sufficient time.


Donating to the Archives

Miss A. Bermingham (Chemist) is working on the vacuum and chemical lines in the background, and Mr R. D. Carman (Physicist) is working on the iron shield surrounding proportional counter and electronic counting equipment in the foreground.
Radiocarbon Dating Lab at the Science Museum of Victoria, circa 1961

The Archives welcomes donation offers of records and papers from significant contributors to Museums Victoria and/or its predecessor institutions, as relate to their affairs with the Museum and its staff. Such papers provide an important contextual and provenance resource; a valuable supplement to existing records.

Examples of interest may include:

  • papers from former staff, Trustees or Board members;
  • papers related to items that are currently part of the State collection; or
  • papers from people who have had significant interactions with or collaborated on projects with Museum staff.

Donation offers of records and papers can be made online. Please include details regarding the relevance and significance of the papers to Museums Victoria in the submission.

Financial donations

Ensure your donation is registered and directed towards supporting the growth and development of the Museums Victoria Archives by providing your details via email to [email protected] or telephone the Museums Victoria Development team on +61 (0) 435 174 216.

Student and volunteer opportunities

The Records and Archives team host a limited number of tertiary students undertaking a relevant course of study, subject to staff availability. See our internships page or discuss this with your placement coordinator if you are required to make arrangements through your educational institution.

We also take a limited number of volunteers – see our volunteering page to learn more.

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