The Bugs Alive! exhibition showcases several thousand of the best
specimens from Museum Victoria’s insect and spider collection. This is one of
the largest collections held by a state institution in Australia. It is
estimated at between 2.5 and 3 million specimens, and includes 20,000 type
While the coverage of Museum Victoria’s insect and spider collection is
predominantly Australian, it also contains an extensive and historically
valuable overseas component.
Significant components of the collection include:
the John Curtis Collection of British insects, the Francis Walker Collection of
foreign insects (including the scientifically valuable Wallace Indo-Pacific
material), the Castlenau foreign beetle collection, and the Godeffroy
Collection of Australian and foreign insects.
collections from large expeditions such as the 1894 Horn Scientific expedition
to Central Australia, and from private expeditions.
an extensive collection of approximately 50,000 specimens of spiders, ticks,
mites, centipedes, scorpions and millipedes.
over 600,000 aquatic insect specimens (making it the largest of its kind in
Australia) and a vast collection of terrestrial insects especially
beetles, butterflies and Hymenoptera (wasps, bees and ants).
Dr Ken Walker is Senior Curator of Entomology and Arachnology, and, with
assistance, is responsible for this vast collection. Dr Walker is endeavouring
to build up the collection in areas that were previously under represented.
This is being done through field trips, purchases and donations, and exchanges
with other institutions.
How is the Collection Used?
The insect and spider collection is used extensively for research by scientists
from a variety of institutions. Museum staff also use the collection in this
way. Dr Walker’s current research centres on the native Australian bee fauna
and the role these bees play in the pollination of native and introduced
The collection is used for identification purposes by doctors, pathologists,
local councils, public health departments, Quarantine, Customs and pest
companies. These groups come to the museum for guidance in identifying bugs
that are causing material damage or health problems.