You may never look at a financial report in the same way again.

  • One 200-pound meteorite from Mt Stirling
  • Specimen of the rare Golden-winged Parakeet
  • New cabinet for the Zurich Bibliographical Council reference cards
  • Complete building extension project for the Spirit House
  • Emu skins (may be able to get a free set from Mr Septimus Robinson)

Annual Report 1897 - page 1
Annual Report 1897 - page 1 Image: Australian Museum
© Australian Museum

These are some of the items from the purchasing lists of the Australian Museum Annual Report 1897. And like any household or business running on a limited budget, in 1897 the Museum looked at ways to stretch funding to build the collections, maintain the building and keep the Museum open to the general public.

1897 visiting hours:
10am – 5pm Tuesday to Friday
2pm – 5pm Sundays
Mondays (closed for school visits and cleaning)

That year there was no spare money in the kitty for expeditions and staff paid their own fares for field excursions, however, Mr Septimus Robinson generously provided two weeks’ worth of lodgings for a Museum collector to source a range of specimens, including emus, at Buckiinguy Station in NSW due to ‘our stock of skins having run out’ according to the Annual Report.

To build up the collections and research library, the Museum relied heavily on donations, presentations, and exchanges with other societies and museums locally and around the world.

The acquisitions included:

  • 949 significant specimens from Sir William McGregor’s New Guinea collection
  • The Technology College provided a copy of the Cook tablet, a cliff-face etching from James Cook and Joseph Banks recording their landing in Botany Bay, A.D. MDCCLXX (yes, that’s 1770)
  • Dr J C Cox presented the Museum with a webbed cap from a Golden Orb Weaving Spider used for ‘smothering adulterous women.’

For more information on the Museum’s operations and the contents of other purchasing lists, dip into the one of the 150 or so reports from 1853 to the present day, Australian Museum Annual Reports.