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Corporate entry Botanical Museum of Melbourne (1853 - 1896)

26 January 1853
South Yarra, Victoria, Australia
December 1896
Alternative Names
  • Phytologic Museum of Melbourne


The Botanical Museum of Melbourne dated from 26 January 1853 with the appointment of Ferdinand Mueller as Victoria's first Government Botanist. Between then and 1896 Mueller assembled for the Victorian Government an herbarium of over 1,000,000 Australian and international specimens, a significant scientific and cultural asset for the Government. These specimens came from: Mueller's exertions as a collector and explorer throughout Australia; the many people who send him specimens; Mueller's paid collectors; and the purchase of significant collections from Australia and overseas. The work of the Museum was principally Mueller's research in describing from the specimens the many Australian plants then unknown to science, and in providing a plant identification service to government officers and the public. Between 1857 and 1873 the Museum was joined with the Melbourne Botanic Gardens, Mueller also holding office as Director of the Gardens. From 1873 the specimen labels used by Mueller in the Museum were headed "Phytologic Museum of Melbourne". In December 1896 the Museum was gazetted as the National Herbarium of Victoria.


The Museum was administratively under a number of different departments of the Victorian colonial Government:
1853 - 1857 Chief Secretary's Department
1857 Board of Lands and Works
1857 - 1867 Chief Secretary's Department
1867 - 1872 Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey
1872 - 1873 Department of Agriculture (subordinate to the Department of Crown Lands and Survey until 1890)
1873 - 1896 Chief Secretary's Department


 1853 - 1896 Botanical Museum of Melbourne
       1896 - National Herbarium of Victoria

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Helen Cohn