The study of meteorites is fundamental to the understanding of the formation of our solar system, the development of star systems and perhaps life itself.
Museum Victoria is the sole repository for meteorites in the state. There are 351 specimens in the collection, representing some 201 different finds and falls. The collection is representative of most of the main groups of meteorites. Approximately 53 per cent of the specimens are from Australian occurrences, with all but two Victorian meteorites represented.
Specimens range in weight from a few grams to approximately 1 tonne. Typically specimens weigh less than 1 kg.
The collection is organised systematically on the basis of the standard international classification system. With the exception of three large masses stored at Moreland, the specimens are housed in the Royal Exhibition Building Basement in Carlton Gardens. Most specimens are on a cardboard tray and housed in an S38 cabinet. While the collection is representative of the main types of meteorites, several significant rare types, such as lunar meteorites, are not present in the collection.
Museum Victoria’s Meteorite Collection is of scientific and educational importance. While not as large as some in other state museums, the rarity of some of the collection’s specimens means that they are sought after by researchers.
- Several kilograms of the Murchison meteorite. This rare carbonaceous chondrite has probably been the subject of more scientific publications that any other meteorite. The discovery of grains formed in a presolar environment and the abundance of organic molecules within the meteorite has facilitated studies on the formation of stars, the formation of the Solar System and the origins of life.
- Willow Grove: this anomalously nickel-rich iron meteorite contains the second-highest concentration of nickel (28 per cent) of any known meteorite.
- Rainbow: this rare CO3-type carbonaceous chondrite, described by Dr Bill Birch (Senior Curator, Geosciences), is one of only eight of this type known and Museum Victoria has the only two masses of the Rainbow.