Rebecca Carland

Curator, History of Collections

Curator of History of Collections, Rebecca Carland
Rebecca Carland, Curator of History of Collections.
Source: Museum Victoria


Bec first developed a love of the mustiness and mystique of museums while studying at university and volunteering at the old Melbourne Museum. This led to paid positions which in turn helped develop and nurture her career. She has worked on various collections at Museum Victoria, and spent time at the London Toy and Model Museum and the Costume Collection in Yarra Park. However it was a stint as a research assistant on the Scientific Artwork Collection that first sparked her interest in the history of the museum, and in particular the natural history collections. This led her back to her studies to complete an honours thesis on Arthur Bartholomew, a little-known giant of scientific illustration in the museum's holdings.

Since that time, Bec has developed a cross-disciplinary methodology that melds Social and Cultural History and Natural Sciences Collections at Museum Victoria. By bringing the fundamentals of historic research, the study of material culture and skills in oral history to the science disciplines, she has explored concepts of nature, extinction, conservation and the role of the museum and collector culture. She is particularly interested in exploring the role of women in museum history.

Bec studied History (Hons) at the University of Melbourne. She was a recipient of the 1854 Scholarship and was shortlisted for the Gyles Turner Prize in history writing. She has held positions on various history committees including: Lilith Feminist History Journal, Women on Farms Heritage Committee and Museum Victoria’s Oral History Committee. She is currently Vice-President of the Professional Historians Association (PHA Vic).

Bec is currently obsessed with digital history, a cross between a digital storytelling and short history documentary.

Current activities

Bec curates the History of the Museum and Scientific Art Collections. She divides her time between committees, research, fieldwork, public presentations and writing for Collections Online. She is part of the Oral History Committee and the organising committee for History Week at the Museum.

She is also the Science Department’s field historian on the annual Bioscan project, travelling to one of Victoria’s national parks each November. This has seen her flying around Wilsons Prom in a helicopter one year and teaching Digital History at the Alpine School at Dinner Plain the next. She also guest lectures at Monash University in the MV/Monash Making History course.

Bec is also a mentor with Willing and Able, a national program that links people with disabilities with mentors and their field of interest.

Last updated 11 November 2014