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How to find a blushing jewel, or appointing the Director in 1921

By: Patricia Egan, Category: Science, Date: 06 Mar 2014

Director Charles Anderson (1921-1940) reflects on the selection processes for Director in 1921.

Charles Anderson, Director, 1921-1940

 © Australian Museum

With the recent announcement of the appointment of the new Director of the Australian Museum it is interesting to reflect upon the appointment of the Museum’s previous Directors. Today the selection process is transparent, rigorous and well documented. Director Charles Anderson’s reflection upon his selection in 1921 demonstrates how this process has changed.

Anderson wrote to Marcel Aurousseau, friend and professional colleague, recalling his selection and demonstrating his obvious sense of humour:

Being as I am a modest and retiring violet I was not an original candidate at all and I thought the other Charles would bring if off (ie Hedley). But no; a chappie (ie Tattersall) from England was appointed, much to the disgust of everybody, particularly the staff, who made bold to ask the Trustees whether they would grant a stay of proceedings to allow me to send in an application. They did, I did, and when the Trustees learned what sort of a jewel had been blushing so long in their service unseen, unwept, unhonoured and unsung, they saw their duty and did it. How is that for a mixed metaphor …

Anderson went on to guide the Australian Museum through challenging economic times for nearly 20 years - only resigning in 1940.