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    The mining collection of the National Museum of Victoria 1856-1871
    Aitken, Richard James ( 1990)
    The Museum of Victoria holds one of the world's great nineteenth century mining collections. This is due to the foresight and energy of Frederick McCoy (1817-1899), director of the National Museum of Victoria from 1857 until his death in 1899. He collected for the museum in many fields, but it was his role as Chairman of the Mining Commission of Victoria during 1856-58 that provided the impetus and funding to commence a mining collection. Models were commissioned, mining tools and implements were collected and a large body of documentary material was assembled by McCoy to support the collection. Particular strengths were models and tools from Victoria, Saxony, the Harz Mountains, the Ural region of Russia, and the United Kingdom. In 1871 the mining collection (along with the agricultural collection) was separated from the natural history specimens at the National Museum and transferred to the newly constituted Industrial and Technological Museum, precursor to the Museum of Victoria, Division of Science and Technology. This break with McCoy's control over the mining collection has provided an appropriate point of termination for this present work although sufficient evidence is included to show that the collection reached its zenith in its earliest years and then declined. The catastrophic disposal of part of the collection following the Second World War is also documented. The collection comprised approximately. 300 items at its greatest extent although I have only been able to locate about one third of these items. All models acquired prior to 1871 are included in the catalogue which comprises Appendix One of this study. This study explores the notion that such a collection, extraordinary for a colonial institution, was assembled by McCoy for the purpose of technical education for miners. In this, McCoy was following the 'metropolitan' model of the Museum of Practical Geology in London and influential mining academies in Freiberg, Clausthal and Paris. That he succeeded in assembling a world class model collection is proved beyond doubt and this study examines changing views about the relevance of such a collection for local conditions. A shift in McCoy's thinking about technical education for miners is highlighted against the background of his unsuccessful quest to establish a school of mines at the University of Melbourne in conjunction with the mining collection under his control at the National Museum of Victoria. Contemporary opinion is also marshalled in an attempt to judge the success of McCoy's aspirations. Such opinion is interspersed in the chronological narrative of the first six chapters, while the final chapter summarises this evidence and presents some general conclusions. The central theme of technical education for miners is also examined in light of subsidiary themes such as the debate over the most appropriate location of the museum. and its implications for the users of the museum; the changing nature of Victoria's mining industry during the two decades 1851-71 and how this affected the collection; the nature of colonial patent legislation and its relationship with the mining collection; the impact of intercolonial and international exhibitions on the museum; and the role of the museum in nineteenth century culture and in particular the role of the National Museum in the culture of colonial Victoria. This study also draws upon and makes accessible for future researchers an important and almost totally neglected source of information about nineteenth century mining technology in both the colonial and international context.