Presented by Vanessa Finney
Manager, World Cultures, Archives & Library, Australian Museum.
On his 1857 natural history expedition to the Murray River, German naturalist Wilhelm Blandowski did not just take the usual load of guns, boxes, barrels and preserving spirits. He also took an unusual library of around 250 books. The library has since travelled on to Germany where it is held in the collections of the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. The library's contents and the story of its travels are a great tool for thinking about the role of books, reading and writing in nineteenth century natural history and field collecting.
The 1857 expedition was also the training ground for AM Curator/Director Gerard Krefft. That makes the library important for Krefft's story; filling in more details on his background, his education, his intellectual and scientific influences and the hands-on, practical approach to natural history he brought to his work at the Australian Museum from 1860 to 1874. His mutterings and grumblings about Blandowski tell us something about his coming troubles at the AM, too.