Limited collection access April to August 2014
Due to a major relocation project from April to August 2014, there will be limited access to the Mammalogy Collection. Be advised that we may not be able to accommodate requests for loans or visitation during this period. If possible, please arrange to work outside this period. Thank you for your patience.
This major Australian collection encompasses more than 30 000 specimens, representing more than 1000 species of mammals. It emphasises Victorian mammal distribution, both past and present; mammal biology and ecology; representatives of Australian and non-Australian faunas; historical collections obtained on scientific expeditions; and practical applications of science relating to the history of Victoria.
The collection contains three major kinds of specimens:
- Skins and mounts: these cover most world families and are a broad representation of mammal diversity. Many have historical interest, being procured from overseas sources and local exploratory trips.
- Skeletons: an effort has been made to accrue a series of skeletal material that represents all Australian mammal fauna. As a result the museum holds one of the best-documented and largest collections of such material. This is constantly used by osteologists and archaeologists.
- Alcoholic: while other collections have lost, through preparation, internal organs and muscle tissues, the wet collection contains materials useful in anatomical studies. These have been retained in a preserved state.
- Type specimens from Australian sources.
- Large osteological collection covering all Australian mammal families and the majority of world families.
- Cetacean collection including material obtained from beach strandings.
- Arthur Rylah/Fisheries and Wildlife Collections: extensive material obtained by survey work throughout Victoria.
- Spencer and Gillen Expedition: large well-documented collection from central and northern Australian localities of historic and scientific value.
This specimen of the Spinifex Hopping Mouse (Notomys alexis) was collected by Spencer on the 1984 Horn Expedition. It was originally retained by Spencer at his university office and not received at the museum until two decades later. The species was not recognised as new until 1922.
Image: Michelle McFarlane
Source: Museum Victoria
Horn Scientific Expedition
In 1894, William Augustus Horn, a wealthy South Australian pastoralist and miner, organised an exploration of Central Australia. The Victorian government commissioned Walter Baldwin Spencer (1860-1929), Professor of Biology at the University of Melbourne, to particicpate as the expedition zoologist. All sorts of animals were collected for the museum, including numerous rarely encountered species.
The mammalogy collection has 800 specimens collected on the 1894 Horn Scientific Expedition to Central Australia, including now extinct species.
Authors: Wayne Longmore and Rory O'Brien. Taken from: Treasures of the Museum (2004)
Pig-footed Bandicoot (Chaeropus ecaudatus) specimen collected during the 1857 Blandowski Expedition. The bandicoot was noted by one member of the expedition, Gerard Krefft, as becoming scarce in areas where it grazed. It became extinct in this area in the 1860s but lasted until 1907 in Central Australia. It is believed that competition for grazing by introduced stock hastened its extinction. Very little of the biology of this species was ever recorded.
Image: Heath Warwick
Source: Museum Vitoria
William Blandowski's Murray-Darling Expedition of 1857
The Mammal Collection holds important study skins and mounts from William Blandowski's Murray-Darling Expedition of 1857, including examples of animals that are now extinct.
Study skin of the Tasmanian Thylacine (Thylacinus cyanocephalus).
Image: Rodney Start
Source: Museum Victoria
MV holds skins and mounts in several important subcollections, including:
- the Barclay study skin collection contains material collected from the arid interior and northern Australia.
- the Donald Thomson study skin collection holding significant material from Victorian, Queensland and Northern Territory localities.
- worldwide material collected from the Godeffroy Museum that form a particularly strong historical basis for the southwest Pacific region.
MV's Okapi specimen on display in the National Museum, 1917. The Okapi was discovered in 1900 and this mounted specimen, purchased in 1916, is believed to be the only Australian example.
Source: Museum Victoria
Historic museum displays
Museum Victoria retains many dispaly specimens that date from the 19th century, including one of the first gorilla exhibits in the world.