Documenting Disability-related Collections

History & Technology and Sciences (Human Biology & Medicine): Short to Medium Term [3-6 months]


Project Objectives

This project will focus on the development of several historical narratives for the Museum’s EMu database to contextualize and interpret Museum Victoria’s Psychiatric Services collection. The narratives will focus on key historic sites for psychiatric history: Beechworth/Mayday Hills, Ararat/Aradale, Kew, Sunbury/Caloola, Royal Park, Larundel and Mont Park.

In conjunction with the narratives, the project will involve some enhancement of EMu collection database records.

The project is part of a larger objective to develop to improve representation of disability and facilitate access to Museum Victoria’s collections.

Project Description

The project will require the student to undertake primary and secondary research and to develop narratives based on that research, and to improve data for individual object records.

The student will utilize Museum Victoria research files, the EMu collection database and secondary sources at Melbourne Museum, on-line newspapers, and possibly the Public Records Office, the State Library of Victoria, Royal Melbourne Hospital and elsewhere.

A desk will be provided for their use at Melbourne Museum. They will have access to the web, EMu database and museum library. The student/researcher may need to use the resources of other relevant research facilities, such as the State Library of Victoria.

Project Outcomes

Narratives for key sites of Victorian psychiatric history: Beechworth/Mayday Hills, Ararat/Aradale, Kew, Sunbury/Caloola, Royal Park, Larundel and Mont Park.

Updated EMu object records, improving Object Summary and Associations.

A final report outlining work undertaken and recommendations for further research.

Opportunities & Benefits

The student will receive behind-the-scenes museum experience. They will participate in a team environment, working directly with the curators and collection managers. They will receive EMu database training (both searches and data input), and have an opportunity to visit some of the Museum’s storage areas.

Student Knowledge & Skills

The student/researcher should be undertaking or have completed a relevant degree in archives management, history, museum studies/curatorship, or related heritage studies; have some research experience and a desire to engage with material culture.


For more information about this project please contact:

Deborah Tout-Smith, Senior Curator, Cultural Diversity, History and Technology Department, Museum Victoria – ph: 8341 7386; email

Nurin Veis, Senior Curator, Human Biology and Medicine, Sciences, Museum Victoria – ph: 8341 7397; email