Back of House Tours



Melbourne Museum
11 Nicholson Street
Carlton, Victoria, 3053
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Conservation, Preparations and Humanities Tour

Thursday 16 November, 4pm–5pm or 6pm–7pm
Mathew Churchward, Deb Tout-Smith, and Trish Stokes

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Guests receiving a tour of the Preparatory lab at a donor event at Melbourne Museum.
The Preparatory lab.
Source: Heath Warwick
Photo: Heath Warwick

This fascinating Behind the Scenes Tour takes you to three critical parts of Museum Victoria’s operations: a Humanities collection store, a conservation laboratory and a preparators' workshop.

The Humanities collection store houses treasures of the collection including a tiny copy of Captain Cook’s Cottage made from sugar, the bell of an ill-fated ship and the suitcase in which a Vietnamese refugee carried everything she owned. See how the collection is cared for, organized and maintained for future generations. Hear stories from curators and collection managers who research, interpret and care for over 700,000 items. 

Walk through our back corridors to the conservation laboratory to meet the talented team of conservators. Museums Victoria’s conservators have the huge task of preserving over 16 million objects and specimens and preparing them for exhibition, loan and research.  With an understanding of the objects' cultural, social, historical, technological, scientific and aesthetic significance, the conservators preserve and slow the process of deterioration, ensuring these priceless objects are maintained for generations to come.

See also a remarkable preparators' workshop, where taxidermists work to create life-like mounts, and conjure extraordinary visual tricks.

Library and Archives Tour

Thursday 14 December, 4pm–5pm or 6pm–7pm

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Librarian Hayley Webster wearing white gloves holding the rare book, published in 1730, 'Insects of Europe [bound with] Insects of Suriname', by Maria Sibylla Merian, which is propped on a boulster
The Museums Victoria Library contains beautiful rare books.
Source: Museums Victoria
Photo: Jon Augier

Go behind the scenes for a unique insight into the relationship between Museums Victoria and the renowned ornithologist and publisher, John Gould, through rarely seen items from the library and archives.

In the late 1850s Frederick McCoy, then Director of the National Museum, wrote to Gould in London asking him to obtain a set of bird skins and species on the Museum’s behalf. This letter initiated a partnership that lasted close to 20 years and led to the creation of a comprehensive ornithology collection. Join staff in the Museums Victoria Archives as they explore historical letters, lists, accounts ledgers and other volumes to better understand the relationship between these two men, and hear about the foundation of Museums Victoria’s amazing ornithology collection.

On his part, Gould utilised his relationship with McCoy to promote his books, a number of which were purchased for the museum and still reside in the library today.

Join Museums Victoria librarians to see and learn more about some of these beautifully illustrated volumes.




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Session time/s

    • Thursday, 16 November, 2017

    • Thursday, 14 December, 2017