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This certificate given to George Masters, while Assistant Curator of the Australian Museum in 1868 is definitely one of my favourite items in the Archives collection. Like a collecting passport - it commissioned him to collect specimens on behalf of the Australian Museum in Western Australia and was signed by then Curator Gerard Krefft.
As an object it represents a lovely artwork, beautifully illustrated with Australian animals by the Museum’s Secretary, renowned scientific illustrator George French Angus. As a unique historical document, and we do hold only one, it evokes an entirely different theme – that of collectors and collecting.
Collecting was the Museums founding mission – a desire to procure the 'many rare and curious specimens of Natural History' that this huge Continent undoubtedly contained. Starting with the heroic efforts of early collectors like George Masters, the Museum has built up an incredible storehouse of biodiversity.
Today the millions of carefully preserved specimens it holds represent a wealth of data that can be used by networks of researchers, organisations and communities worldwide. With an estimated 90 per cent of the world’s species still undiscovered, the Museum’s magnificent collections may be even more relevant today than they were when originally acquired with so much toil and passion nearly two centuries ago.