Curators and Directors of the Australian Museum

17 curators or directors have overseen our evolution from a one-man operation to an internationally recognised scientific institution.

Kim McKay, AO, Director & CEO, 2014 -

Ross Coffey © Ross Coffey

A Note on Terminology: the title 'Curator' was used until 1917, when the position was retitled as 'Director and Curator', then 'Director' only from 1918. The scientific staff, appointed from the later 1870s, were 'scientific assistants', known by their discipline eg Ornithologist, Conchologist, Zoologist. In 1948, they became known as 'Curators', a term used until 1984 when the positions of 'Collection Manager' were created and scientific staff used titles appropriate to their classification eg 'Research Scientist' (Ichthyologist).

Kim McKay, Director, 2014 - present

Kim McKay is an environmentalist, author and international marketing and communications consultant and a regular media commentator on community environmental action. She has been a consultant to the National Geographic Society since 2004 and is currently the Managing Director of Momentum2 Pty Ltd... read more.

Frank Howarth, Director, 2004 - 2014

Frank Howarth trained as a geologist, completing a BSc in Geology at Macquarie University, followed by a Master of Science and Society from the University of NSW, focusing on science and biotechnology policy. Frank joined the NSW Government in 1981 and has held positions with the Department of Industrial Development and Decentralisation, NSW Science and Technology Council, the Public Service Board, and the Roads and Traffic Authority... read more.

Dr Michael Archer, Director, 1999-2004

Mike Archer was appointed Director in 1999 while maintaining a formal appointment as Professor at the University of NSW. As an undergraduate he trained in geology and biology at Princeton University and gained consecutive Fulbright Scholarships for palaeontological research at the Western Australian Museum, Perth (1967-69) and a PhD in Zoology at the University of Western Australia (1976)... read more.

Dr Desmond John G. Griffin, Director, 1976-1998

Des Griffin studied as a marine biologist, particularly in the area of crustacea. He was appointed Assistant Curator of Marine Invertebrates in 1966, Curator in 1969 before becoming Deputy Director in 1975, then Director in 1976... read more.

Dr Frank Hamilton Talbot, Director, 1966-1975

Frank Talbot, a marine biologist, was Deputy Director of the South African Museum in Capetown before his appointment as Curator of Fishes in 1964. In 1966 he was appointed Director... read more.

Dr John William Evans, Director, 1954-1966

John Evans was appointed Director in 1954. An entomologist, he had worked at CSIR 1926-34, the Tasmanian Department of Agriculture 1934-43 and, in London, for the Commonwealth Institute of Entomology 1944-1948 and Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries 1948-1954... read more.

Dr Arthur Bache Walkom, Director, 1941-1954

Arthur Walkom, a palaeobotanist, was Secretary of the NSW Linnean Society from 1919 until his appointment as Director of the Museum in November 1940. He had been appointed an Elective Trustee in April 1939, resigning on his appointment... read more.

Charles Anderson, Director, 1921-1940

Charles Anderson was appointed Mineralogist to the Australian Museum in July 1901. His research work was in morphological crystallography and the chemistry of minerals in Australia: he published the crystal measurements and drawings of 45 mineral species in Australia... read more.

Robert Etheridge Jnr, Curator, 1895-1917; Director and Curator, 1917-18; Director, 1918-19

Robert Etheridge Jnr trained as a palaeontologist. In 1866 he travelled to Australia to be assistant field geologist to the Geological Survey of Victoria... read more.

Edward Pierson Ramsay, Curator, 1874-1894

Edward Ramsay, the first Australian born Curator, had an early interest in natural history, especially in ornithology. In 1867 he established a nursery on his share of the family Dobroyde Estate... read more.

Johann Ludwig (Louis) Gerard Krefft, Curator and Secretary, 1861-1874

Gerard Krefft came to the Victorian goldfields in 1852. In 1857-58, he went as a collector on William Blandowski's expedition to the lower Murray and Darling Rivers, and was then employed at the Melbourne Museum to catalogue the expedition's collection. In June 1860 he was appointed Assistant Curator of the Australian Museum, then acting Curator and Secretary after Pittard's death... read more.

Simon Rood Pittard, Curator and Secretary, 1860-1861

Simon Pittard studied at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, then worked at the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons as assistant to Sir Richard Owen. He was later medical practitioner, lecturer in comparative anatomy and director of Kentish Mutual Assurance... read more.

William Sheridan Wall, Curator, c1844-1858

William Sheridan Wall succeeded John Roach in 1840 as collector and preserver, and moved the collections to the Court House in Darlinghurst. With Clarke living at Parramatta, Wall managed the Museum on a daily basis, and following Clarke's departure in 1843, acted as Curator, although when he was officially appointed is unclear... read more.

Rev. William Branwhite Clarke, Secretary and Curator, 1841-1843

William Clarke, clergyman and geologist, emigrated to Australia in 1839 for his health. He was on the Museum's Committee of Superintendence in 1840, when he succeeded Bennett as Secretary and Curator in August 1841... read more.

Dr George Bennett, Secretary and Curator, 1835-1841

George Bennett, a distinguished naturalist and medical practitioner, travelled extensively, visiting Sydney in 1829 and 1832, before settling there in 1835. Bennett had a close connection with Sir Richard Owen, regularly corresponding and sending specimens over 50 years... read more.

William Galvin, "In Charge", 1831-1835

William Galvin, transported to NSW in 1826 and conditionally pardoned in 1832, worked from 1829 as a parliamentary messenger in the office of Edward Deas Thomson, who was appointed Colonial Secretary in 1837. After Holmes' death, care of the Museum's collections was added to Galvin's duties until the appointment of George Bennett... read more.

William Holmes (-1831) Zoologist 1829-1831

William Holmes was a carpenter and joiner: the reasons for his appointment as collector for the new museum are obscure. Appointed on 16 June 1829, his tenure was brief as he was shot by accidental discharge of his gun on 23 August 1831 while collecting at Moreton Bay... read more.


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