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Anthony Musgrave (1895-1959) was a valuable member of the Australian Museum staff and entomology community at large.

Known for his high-spirited manner, fastidious fact-checking and love of Gilbert and Sullivan songs, Anthony Musgrave (1895-1959) was a valuable member of the Australian Museum staff and entomology community at large.

Anthony Musgrave
Anthony Musgrave was the resident Entomologist at the Australian Museum. Image: Howard Hughes
© Australian Museum

Born in Cooktown, Queensland on 9 July 1895, Musgrave went on to study art under Julian Ashton before joining the Australian Museum as a cadet in 1910. After working in the library, Musgrave became the assistant to W. J. Rainbow, the resident entomologist. During this time, Musgrave also studied zoology at the Sydney Technical College and the University of Sydney. Following Rainbow’s death, Musgrave took over as entomologist and later became the Curator of Insects and Arachnids.

Musgrave’s research on insects and arachnids was focused particularly on spiders and ticks. He went on to publish Bibliography of Australian Entomology, 1775-1930, with biographical notes on authors and collectors in 1932, and notably contributed to the first and second issues of the Australian Encyclopedia.

Musgrave undertook extensive field work across Australia, New Guinea, Lord Howe Island and the Great Barrier Reef. He pioneered the use of photography in the field, using slides to animate his findings in his lectures at the museum. Musgrave’s use of photography at the time was relatively new, especially its use in documenting specimens in the field. Musgrave was well known for his photography, so much so that he was nicknamed “the Leica Man” by museum staff.

Musgrave’s works in the entomological field were widespread and well known. He was elected as the president of the Royal Zoological Society of NSW in 1929-1930 and was later appointed as a Fellow. Musgrave was also a Fellow of the London-based Royal Entomological Society and a member of the Linnean Society of NSW and the Royal Australian Historical Society.

Musgrave died suddenly at the age of 64, having presented a lecture at the Naturalists’ Society of NSW only two nights before. Despite his excellence as an entomologist, he was remembered for his enjoyment of music, travel, philosophy and golf.

Sources: Australian Museum Magazine, September 1959, pp101-102; Australian Dictionary of Biography, pp651-652.