Virtual Museum brings home Chemistry’s Cultural Heritage

April 14 / 134

Induction coil, made by Cox Cavendish Electrical Co. Ltd, London, date unknown. Cat. no. 55, School of Chemistry Collection, University of Melbourne.  Photography by Petronella Nel.
Induction coil, made by Cox Cavendish Electrical Co. Ltd, London, date unknown. Cat. no. 55, School of Chemistry Collection, University of Melbourne. Photography by Petronella Nel.

The School of Chemistry has launched the Chemistry Collection Virtual Museum to display more than 300 historical items from the 1850s to the 1960s, used during the first century of the school.

The Virtual Museum allows students, alumni and the community to look at artefacts that are part of the School of Chemistry’s historical roots. 

The website includes 3D interactive videos to explore antique scientific instruments, photographic film, slides, catalogues and lecture notes.

The Collection was first documented in the 1970s by one of the School of Chemistry’s members, Dr Joan Radford, who recognised its cultural heritage value in representing chemistry’s development in Australia.  Dr Radford catalogued the collection and in 1980, it was placed on long-term loan to Scienceworks, now part of the Museum of Victoria. 

In 2007, the Collection was returned to the University and is currently housed in the University’s archives.

Primarily funded by a Scholarly Information Innovation Grant awarded in 2009 to Associate Professor Michelle Gee, the Virtual Museum initiative builds on support from the School of Chemistry and the Russell and Mab Griwmade Miegunyah Fund to give the public access to the collection.

A small exhibition featuring selected items of historical significance from the Collection which includes associated biographies, photographs and information panels can be viewed in the foyer of the main entrance of the School of Chemistry’s building. 

Plans are under way to create a permanent museum to showcase the entire collection, as part of the current redevelopment of the Chemistry building. 

Artefacts include the Kerr-Grant microbalance invented by the School of Chemistry’s Bertram Dillon Steele, in collaboration with Professor Kerr Grant from Physics.  It was used by Masson’s mentor, Professor (later Sir) William Ramsay, working in London who discovered the rare/Noble gases. 

http://museum.chemistry.unimelb.edu.au/

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