Ballarat School of Mines Museum

From Ballarat and District Industrial Heritage Project
Jump to: navigation, search
"Ballarat School of Mines Museum, c1879, Federation University Historical Collection. (Cat.No.4739)
"Interior museum - School of Mines, Ballarat, 1898. State Library of Victoria. (H2006.188/12)




Ballarat School of Mines’ Constitution gave the school’s name as The School of Mines and Industries and Library and Museum of Ballaarat, but in legal and other documents it could be cited as The School Of Mines, Ballaarat.[1]


Ballarat School of Mines Museum established attracting many students and visitors to the Ballarat School of Mines. It grew to become an important teaching tool. The Museum was officially launched by Governor of Victoria, Sir Henry Loch, over 10 years later when it was transferred to the former Wesleyan Church. (Perry: 141) The new building gave the Museum a more suitable and permanent location, and at the same time allowed the hall in the main building which it had occupied to be used as a library and reading room. (1898 SMB Students Magazine)


THE VICTORIAN SCHOOL OF MINES. (From the S. M. Herald.) THE school of mines is one of the institutions of Ballarat. It was first suggested by Mr. Harrie Wood, the present secretary for mines in New South Wales. To decide on a thing in Ballarat is to do it. There was an old court-house which had seen better days, and a lease of it was granted by the government. Many thought it had served its day and generation, and should be permitted a quiet death, but it was renovated, and became a new thing. Situated as it is, in an enclosure between the jail and the Wesleyan church, it commands a most extensive prospect, and is, naturally of course, in a commanding position itself. The main building, this old court-house, has a front age to the street of 50 feet by a depth of 74 feet. The chemical and metallurgical laboratories behind are 40 feet long by 388 feet wide. In the centre of the main, building. a gallery has been fitted up entirely round the hall, and this is the museum, In this museum there is an almost endless variety of exhibits, casts of all the celebrated nug-. gets found in the colony are there, and indeed a specimen of nearly everything is there from the great laboratory, of nature. Timber and fruits and cones found in auriferous beds as deep as 320 feet are there, and amongst the specimens are ores of tin, antimony, copper, silver, lead, iron, rock, crystal, amethyst, jasper, chalcedony, dolomite, crystallised sulphur, &e. There is also to be seen a shark's bone found 116 ft.. from the surface. The many beautiful and instructive exhibits which abound in this emporium of nature have been obtained from other colonies as well as Victoria, and also from European countries, including Italy. The contributions from the last named are worthy of special note. They consist of beautiful polished marble squares, taken from the Italian quarries and polished expressly by a count of that land for the school, which he had visited with pleasure a year or two before. Those marbles alone are worth a visit, and, as they are all ticketed and in part described, they afford plenty of food for study. Sir Henry Parkes would only be too glad to get an opportunity of purchasing the mineralogical collection of the Rev. W.B. Clarke here.... .[2]


The Ballarat School of Mines Council purchased the former Methodist Church in Lydiard Street South for 2000 pounds. The following year the building was converted to a museum.


The Ballarat School of Mines Museum was officially opened.[3]


The museum collection number nearly 8,000 exhibits which were systematically arranged and catalogued, and in this way were a means for profitable instruction to the casual visitor as well as to the student.[4]


The rearrangement of part of the Museum has just been completed and is eminently satisfactory. There is now, besides a general mineralogical collection, an ore collection showing the principal ores f the different metals and illustrating the various Australian Mining districts. The method of labelling has been improved by the inserting of cards in the back of each case, which gives the name and composition, locality, etc. The rock and fossil collection at present is a varied one, illustrating petrography and paleontology. The Curator proposes to separate the two exhibits from each other. In the Technological Division a few unimportant alterations have to be made.[5]


The Museum is opened three half days per week. Various changes have been made in the cases, and an effort is made to keep the museum in a tidy state. About 100 people visit the museum per month.[6]
... Pending a report from the Department re the grant applied for by the Museum Committee, the Museum remains closed. From time to time geological and mineral gifts continue to be received. ... Almost all of the Male Senior Art students have volunteered for active service and have gone to camp. Messrs Moss and Brown of the Art Staff have also enlisted and are to report themselves next Monday. ...


The Museum still remains closed and idle. Each week visitors inquire at the office for admission. It is a pity something could not be done towards putting once more on a sound and efficient basis this excellent and much neglected institution. We would suggest that the Registrar be empowered to call the Museum Committee together to consider the matter before the beginning of the vacation.[8]


...No further action has been taken with regard to the Museum, which still stands closed and dilapidated.[9]


The Ballarat School of Mines Council applied to the War Trophies Trustees, agreeing to display the trophies as an adjunct to the School museum exhibits. The following year the Australian War Memorial offered war photographs and paintings, which were later bought by the Exhibition Commissioners from 250 pounds.[10]


In 1947 Dr Sydney Pern displayed his private collection of Aboriginal weapons and craft work in the upper floor of the Ballarat School of Mines museum. The 1948 Ballarat School of Mines Students' Magazine notes that Sydney Pern has spent much time arranging his collection in the Museum.[11]

Dr S. Pern's Collection of Native Weapons
The President requested a representative attendance at the handing over function to be held at 3pm on Tuesday 25th March.[12]


The war exhibits in the Museum were re-arranged by Major E.J. Millet, of the arms section of the Museum of Applied Science, Melbourne. This work was completed in February 1956.

Major E.J. Millet, of the arms section of the Museum of Applied Science, Melbourne, has volunteered to re-arrange the valuable war exhibits at the Ballarat Museum and to supervise the painting of the display cases in a modern color scheme. He will do the work in an honorary capacity. When he visited Ballarat yesterday he was met by Cr W.E. Roff and Mr G.H. Morton, representing the City Council and the trustees of the War Memorial Exhibits. Cr Roff said that the offer was a generous one, which would mean that the Ballarat Museum would be brought up to date and made attractive.[13]


The Museum is closed by Principal Harry Arblaster, and converted to the E.J. Tippett Recreational Hall in 1859.

War Museum Closed
Ballarat's war museum has closed
The museum housed in a School of Mines building, was one of its kind in Victoria.
For years its display had been made up mainly of weapons and clothing from two world wars, Native Weapons, mineral specimens, old bicycles and several fine scale models had also been on show.
Although it occupied a School of Mines building, the principal of the school, Mr R.W. Richards, said it was in no way controlled or operated by the school.
It was controlled by the City Council. The retirement of the caretaker caused it to be closed.
Meanwhile the exhibits will remain as the are at the museum until council has appointed an attendant to look after the display or has moved it to a new site.
The retired caretaker was paid a small weekly fee.
The future of the museum has been jeopardised since the School council decided upon its extension plan. ...the site of the present museum building will be needed for school facilities.
In recent years the museum has had little public appeal.[14]


On 04 september 1959 a small committee of trustees was formed to decide the future of the museum, including representatives of organisations responsible for various exhibits the Ballarat War Museum. The trustees were G.F. Morton (War Trophies Trustees); Keith Price (Exhibition Commissioners; R.P. Evans (President, [[Ballarat Fine Art Gallery)) Dr Sydney Pern, and Cr William Ernest Roff (City Council and Ballarat Historical Society)[15]

SMB Museum
The School of Mines Museum building was a most historic building, the principal mr H.E. Arblaster, said yesterday. It was originally the Wesleyan Church in Ballarat and early pictures showed the building with its typical church front what was later replaced by the present facade.
The building we all know as the School of Mines Museum has been owned by the school since the turn of the century and the school is not taking it over but obtaining use of its own building,: he said. He said that to allay the fears of a writer to the "Courier," under the name "Footslogger," it was not the wish nor the intentions that anything by "thrown into the Yarrowee creek." "With an increasing number of students the school must, while giving due regard to the relics of the past, make its first and most important care that of the living young on whom the future of the country depends," he said.[16]

War Museum
Members of the War Museum Committee and the Exhibition Commissioners will be asked to confer with the City Council on the future of the exhibits at present housed in the War Museum at the School of Mines. The City Council on Monday night received a letter from the principal of the school, Mr H.E. Arblaster, asking that the building should be vacated so that it could be used for student purposes, and it was decided to call a meeting of those organisations concerned. The Town Clerk said yesterday that the Museum Committee and the Exhibition Commissioners were with the City Council, the bodies concerned with the museum, and it was probably that representatives of the tow organisations and of the school, would be asked to attend a meeting with the council.[17]

School of Mines Wants Museum Relics Removed
The Principal of the School of Mines, Mr H.E. Arblaster,last night requested the City Council to organise the removal of the exhibits from the museum building at the school in order that the premised might be used for student purposes.
Briefly, said Mr Arblaster, the number of students had increased and something had to be done before the onset of the inclement weather.
It was understood that the exhibition Commissioners owned certain models and war picture; that the Art Gallery owned the pottery, and the War Museum Committee the war weapons, while the City Council owned the Dr Pern Collection of Aboriginal weapons.
It would be appreciated, said Mr Arblaster, if the building could be vacated by June 30. The senior students had volunteered to assist in packing and loading the equipment.
He added that the school would be willing to locate, in a suitable location, winding machine and the locomotive, which the school would like very much to retain.
The Town Clerk suggested that the council might call a meeting of the various committees concerned in the request.
Cr K.C. Webb moved and Cr W.E. Roff seconded that the council call a meeting of the various bodies.
Cr A.C. Pittard asked. "Isn't there a large collection of timbers belonging to Mr Wardle there?"
The Town Clerk said the was and suggested that Mr Wardle be invited to attend the meeting.
Cr Pittard observed that Mr Wardle was ill.
The engineer said that he understood the collection was now in the carpentry section.
The Mayor, Cr. G.L. Scott MLA, said, "if it is in the carpentry section it would be all right."
Cr W.E. Roff offered to visit Mr Wardle on behalf of the council.
The Town Clerk said the collection should be in the museum.
Cr Pittard: Yes, we are the custodians.
The motion was carried.[18]

Museum Site
A possible city site for a Ballarat Museum has been discussed by the Ballarat and District Joint Town Planning committee. The Chairman, Cr A.C. Pittard, said yesterday that the committee was conscious of the importance of a central museum as an important attraction in the city. While no definite conclusions had been reached, the matter had been discussed by the committee, he said. the discussions being centred mainly on the Ballarat East Library as a possible museum site.[19]

War Museum
The committee appointed as trustees of the War museum at a meeting at the Town Hall yesterday decided to recommend to the City Council that exhibits be moved from the ground floor of the building and that possibilities of establishing a museum elsewhere in Ballarat should be explored. The decision followed a request from the School of Mines authorities that the exhibits be removed from the museum building which was required for student purposes. Cr. O.W. Curnow presided at the meeting. The general feeling was that the exhibits be retained as a unit, although all trustees were prepared to accept responsibility for storing their various sections if necessary. The Town Clerk suggested that, subject to approval of the City Council;, exhibits could be displayed at the Ballarat East Library, pointing out that if the various sections were dispersed, it might be difficult to reassemble them into a unit. Mr Maddern added that the possibility of the council's being in a position to build a museum was remote. The committee inspected the War Museum after the meeting, and discussed the possibility of storing the exhibits on the top floor of the building of the School of Mines Council would make it safe from interference.[20]

Removal of Exhibits from Museum
Cr Price reported that the School Committee appointed by the City Council to go into this matter and to submit recommendations to the Council had met and had also inspected the exhibits.
The various organizations concerned had agreed to accept responsibility for their respective exhibits but the problem was to find suitable accommodation. The organisations had [illegible] and had to depend on the City Council to find suitable quarters. It was felt that the exhibits should be kept together somewhere instead of being dispersed. If the ground floor is urgently needed the only immediate solution appeared to be the transfer of the exhibits from there to the first floor.
The committee had recommended such action to the City Council provided that access to the first floor is blocked off. The City Council was also asked to take steps to provide a suitable building for all the exhibits. Cr Webb said that the committee's recommendation was considered by the City Council at a meeting held the previous evening and adopted. The City Council will provide a suitable building for all the exhibits. The City Council will provide a suitable building in time but finance is the immediate problem.
As no official communication had been received from the City Council it was resolved that the matter be left in the hands of the Finance Committee with power.[21]

It was resolved that the owners of exhibits in the War Museum be informed that the exhibits are not covered by fire insurances policies held by the School. [22]

E.J. Tippett Recreation Hall
It was resolved that the ground floor of the Museum building to be occupied by students for recreational purposed as from the commencement of third term be named the E.J. Tippett Recreation Hall. ... The President very feelingly thanked members for the honour. [23]

Disposal of articles on top floor of E.J. Tippett Recreation Hall
It was decided that the matter be left in the hands of the President and the Principal.[24]


Remaining collection was disposed of.


Re-establishment of the Ballarat School of Mines Museum under the direction of Jenny Leviston.


The University of Ballarat Historical Collection (now Federation University Historical Collection) was housed in the E.J. Barker Library, Mount Helen Campus, under the direction of Clare Gervasoni.


The Geoffrey Blainey Research Centre is opened. A newly refurbished area which houses the Federation University Historical Collection, the Federation University Art Collection and the special collections of the library, and features a supervised reading room.

The Building

Museum Roof
An inspection of the top floor of the Museum was then made. It was resolved that it be a recommendation to the School Council that the Town Clerk be invited to call a meeting of representatives of bodies interested in the museum for the purpose of finding ways and means of improving the Museum roof and the building and contents generally.[25]

Artefacts and Objects

Phascolomys pliocenus Skull

Any persons who find any objects such as fossil bones, native axes, &c., likely to be of museum value, will greatly oblige by sending the same to this office, when they will be forwarded to the Ballarat School of Mines per Cobb & Co., who kindly perform this service free of charge. Last week we received from Mr Matthew Davison, of Parwan, the complete skull of some animal which had peculiarly long jaws, with four front teeth a long way in front of the grinders. Mr Davidson found it about four feet from the surface, while digging out a rabbit burrow. The Registrar of the Ballarat School of Mines tenders thanks for the specimen and encloses Professor Krause’s report upon it as follows:- “The specimen unearthed by Mr. Matthew Davison, at Parwan, is the fossil skull of Pharscolmys pliocenus, a species of wombat now extinct. It is distinguished from the living wombat (P.platyrhinus) by the smaller space between the incisors and premolars, and the greater size of the molars. The latter characteristic also serves to distinguish it from the P. Mitchelli found in abundance in the Wellington caves, New South Wales. The P. pliocenus has been met with in various Victorian localities, not only in the surface clay, but embedded in hard clay ironstone, eg. At Dunolly, where a skeleton, now in the National Museum, Melbourne, was dug out from a layer of hard cemented “wash dirt.” The specimen under notice is in an excellent state of preservation, the only part missing being three of the premolars of the upper jaw. I should be exceedingly glad to obtain for the Ballarat Museum, the remainder of the skeleton which will probably be discovered in close proximity to the spot where the skull was found. F.M. KRAUSE 21/12/85." [26]

Pern Collection of Native Weapons

The Pern Collecton was displayed at the Ballarat School of Mines Museum from c1948. It was handed to the Ballarat Historical Society, and is now housed in the Gold Museum.

A Notable Gift to the School Museum
A word of appreciation and thanks should be given to Dr. Sydney Pern, who has spent and is still spending much time in arranging his private collection of aboriginal weapons and craft work in the upper floor of the museum. Dr Pern has set these exhibits in an artistic fashion; and when finished, the whole will form a comprehensive selection of the crafts of the Pacific Islanders. The visitors to this collection will see axes, shields, clubs, boomerangs, arrows, womerahs and chiraungas. To Dr Pern is due the sincere thanks of the School and of the City of Ballarat in making this generous donation, which will be a permanent educational, historical and cultural interest. [27]

Dr S. Pern's Collection of Native Weapons
The President requested a representative attendance at the handing over function to be held at 3pm on Tuesday 25th March.[28]
"Salary Receipt for Museum Curator Ferdinand Krause Federation University Historical Collection. (Cat.No.4825)

Sir - The temporary closing down of the School of Mines Museum has raised a considerable point of interest to the city of Ballarat. This museum contains one of the best assortments of Aboriginal weapons and stone tools in australia. This collection is the result of a lifetime's seeking by Dr Sydney Pern. Here are represented all the different types of boomerangs, shields, etc, used by the different tribes. Such a collection can never be gathered together again, regardless of hose much money is spent on it. It is by keeping these relics of a dying race we learn in what manner of ways these folk lived, fought, hunted and survived. Ballarat is a city which is rapidly growing in stature and in fifty years time will be in a very different state to what it is today. Together with the anthropological museum there is the historical museum, cluttered up into a very small space and urgently in need of more room to show off its interesting collection which is of such vital importance to the city of Ballarat. Sooner of later it must become an imperative that Ballarat raises a building suitable to house both the anthropological and historical treasures which would be of the greatest interest for visitors to overlook.
Yours etc.,
"Citizen" [29]

Sir - May I support "Citizen's remarks re the Museum (Courier 4/6/57)? My study of anthropology has taken me not only into the outback but also into the museums in most of our capital cities and also the institute of Anatomy, Canberra. Nowhere have I seen a wider variety f specimens than at the School of Mines Museum. It has been an eye-opened to me during my studies to think what time and labor Dr Pern has put into collecting these relics. Not only has he scoured Australasia, but also gathered material from Africa, ancient Persia ad Stone Age Britain. What other museum in Australia has these? Anthropologically speaking, Ballarat has a priceless treasure, one which could not be replaced as the aborigines are fast giving up their tribal customs. I believe the University of Melbourne is interested in the collection. If the City Hall allows it to go what will it offer students if Ballarat gets a University? Combine the two museums here in proper conditions and they will prove as popular as those in the capital cities for students and visitors. Yours, etc
John Morris,
10 Ford Street[30]

Surviving Items from the Ballarat School of Mines Museum

Two Native Weapons now in the Federation University Historical Collection (Cat. No. 10840)[31]

Associated People

At the first meeting of the Ballarat School of Mines Council Mr H.B. De la Poer Wall was appointed Honorary Curator of the Museum.[32]

The first curator, Professor Ferdinand Krause, paid the collection much care and professional attention. He was forever trying to increase the colleciton in number and variety, and to display it to its best advantage. [33]

In 1874 Clifford Singleton was employed to arrange the specimens in the museum. [34]

Thomas Hart, Curator of the Ballarat School of Mines Musuem

Sydney Pern

Frank Ponsonby, caretaker of the Museum and Ballarat Technical Art School


Donation of specimens could be forwarded to the Ballarat School of Mines free of costs. In 1870 free delivery of items could be organised by the following means:

  • Government Railway
  • Messrs Bright and Co. steamers
  • Gipps Land Steam Naviagation Co. steamers
  • W. McCulloch and Co., Murray River Steamboats
  • McMeckan, Blackwood and Co. steamers trading to neighbourhood colonies
  • W.P. White and Co., as agents for the A.S.N. Company, Sydney - by any of the Company's steamers
  • Cobb and Co. coaches through the Colony at half parcel rates.[35]

Associated Items

Among the donations to the Museum of special interest were samples of Lead and Silver Ores from the Barrier Rangers at Broken Hill. They were presented by a former student of the Ballarat School of Mines, William Corbould. [36]

The H. T. Wardle Wood Specimen Collection were transferred to the Victorian School of Forestry in the 1960s, after it's initial donation to the Ballarat School of Mines Museum in 1935.[37]

See also

Ballarat School of Mines

Ferdinand Krause

Model Mine


A curiosity in the shape of a lamb with two heads and two necks and eight legs, but only one body, has been stuffed and presented to the Ballarat School of Mines Museum.[38]

BURGLARY AT THE BALLARAT SCHOOL of MINES.-On Friday night the Ballarat School of Mines Museum was entered by burglars, and a raid made upon the models of the principal nuggets found in the colonies. After breaking a valuable glass case containing the models, the thieves abstracted two of the largest, but being then probably suspicious of their genuineness they broke pieces off them and discovered them to be mere plaster. The burglars, therefore, left them behind on the floor, broken up, and did not carry anything away. The burglary is supposed to have been committed by boys.[39]
One of the finest and best defined dendrites yet obtained at the Ballarat School of Mines museum was received by Mr Hart, lecturer on geology, yesterday morning. It was obtained from the Black Horse Company’s mine, at a depth of 200 feet from the surface. The fossil impressions are in manganese and oxide of iron, the minerals having passed through the earth by a process of filtration.[40]

There is at present on view at the Ballarat School of Mines museum a splendid collection of South African curios, in the shape of twenty pairs of beautiful horns, leopard skins, and native weapons. The collection, which is the property of a well known lady in Sydney, has been placed in the hands of Mr W.Jewkes, of the local Dispensary, with the idea of endeavoring to try and sell it in Ballarat. Mr Jewkes states thut the lady recently, refused £lOO for the exhibit, but is now prepared to dispose of it for a smaller sum. Mr F. J. Marrell, director of the School of Mines, who always takes a deep interest in matters of the kind, is at present trying to raise subscriptions for its purchase, as he considers that the collection would be a valuable addition to the already well-stocked museum.[41]


  1. Perry, Warren, The School of Mines and Industries, Ballarat, Ballarat School of Mines, Ballarat, 1984.
  2. Queanbeyan Age, 18 September 1978.
  3. Perry, Warren, The School of Mines and Industries, Ballarat, Ballarat School of Mines, Ballarat, 1984.
  4. Perry, Warren, The School of Mines and Industries, Ballarat, Ballarat, 1984, pg 80.
  5. Ballarat School of Mines Students' Magazine, 1898.
  6. Ballarat School of Mines Monthly Principals Report, April 1915/
  7. Ballarat School of Mines Monthly Principals Report, July 1915/
  8. Ballarat School of Mines Monthly Principals Report, November 1915/
  9. Ballarat School of Mines Monthly Principals Report, May 1916/
  10. Ballarat Courier 05 June 1959.
  11. Ballarat School of Mines Students' Magazine, 1948, p13.
  12. Ballarat School of Mines Council Minutes, 19 March 1947, p109.
  13. Ballarat Courier, 02 December 1955.
  14. 24 May 1957.
  15. Ballarat Courier 05 June 1959.
  16. Ballarat Courier 21 May 1958.
  17. Ballarat Courier, 16 May 1959.
  18. Ballarat Courier, 19 May 1959.
  19. Ballarat Courier, 28 May 1959.
  20. Ballarat Courier, 11 June 1959.
  21. Ballarat School of Mines Council Minutes, 17 June 1959, p.351.
  22. Ballarat School of Mines Council Minutes, 15 July 1959, p.351.
  23. Ballarat School of Mines Council Minutes, 19 August 1959, p.381.
  24. Ballarat School of Mines Council Minutes, 21 October 1959, p.405.
  25. Ballarat School of Mines Council Minutes, 05 May 1947, p123.
  26. Bacchus Marsh Express, 26th December 1885.
  27. Ballarat School of Mines Students' Magazine, 1948, p13.
  28. Ballarat School of Mines Council Minutes, 19 March 1947, p109.
  29. Ballarat Courier, 04 June 1957.
  30. Ballarat Courier, 06 June 1957.
  32. Ballarat School of Mines Minutes, 1870.
  33. Perry, Warren, The School of Mines and Industries, Ballarat, Ballarat, 1984, pg 80.
  34. Receipt of payment from Ballarat School of Mines to C. Singleton - 10/04/1874, 27/04/1874, 05/05/1874. University of Ballarat Historical Collection (Cat.No.0607)
  35. The School of Mines Ballaarat: A Statement of the Objects and Present Resources of the School, 1873.
  36. Perry, Warren, The School of Mines and Industries, Ballarat, Ballarat, 1984, pg 80.
  37. The Argus, 23 August 1935.
  38. 'The Daily News', 27 July 1884.
  39. Kerang Times and Swan Hill Gazette, 15 March 1889.
  40. Ballarat Star, 04 June 1897.
  41. Ballarat Star, 29 September 1904.

Further Reading

External links

Federation University Historical Collection Online Catalogue - --C.K.Gervasoni 12:06, 13 March 2012 (EST); --Clare K.Gervasoni 13:57, 21 March 2017 (AEDT)

Personal tools