Centenary of the Royal Society: a right royal effort

Royal Society of Tasmania Display
Queen Victoria Museum at Inveresk
4 October 2021 –12 June 2022

To celebrate 100 years of the Northern Branch of the Royal Society of Tasmania, a pop-up exhibit is on show at the Museum in Inveresk.

The Royal Society of Tasmania is the third oldest Royal Society in the Commonwealth and the oldest outside of Britain.

It was founded in 1843 by Sir John Eardley-Wilmot, Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (Tasmania), with the aim to ‘develop the physical character of the Island and illustrate its natural history and productions’.

The first Northern Branch was formed in 1853, and in 1862, members set up a small museum in the public buildings on St John Street.

In 1937, the Branch moved to the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, with whom it has been associated ever since, and continues to dedicate itself to the advancement of knowledge.

Nature's wondrous pageant

The Centenary of the Royal Society exhibit is an imaginative re-creation of the museum display established by the first Northern Branch of the Royal Society of Tasmania.

It reflects the outlook of nineteenth-century collectors in Tasmania, who were almost entirely focused on the natural world and the many wonders being brought to light.

They focused on geology, botany and zoology, with an emphasis on describing, naming and cataloguing the abundance of new species being discovered. 

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Centenary of the Royal Society exhibit in the foyer of the Museum at Inveresk. Image: QVMAG. 

In Launceston, the Northern Branch had been bringing together a collection of items, including a small library of scientific works.

In 1862, this collection, mainly consisting of geological and botanical specimens, was housed in the new public buildings in St John Street. 

Although modest in size, it was an important step towards the development of a public museum in northern Tasmania.

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Centenary of the Royal Society exhibit in the foyer of the Museum at Inveresk. Image: QVMAG.  

The Royal Society’s aim today is the advancement of knowledge by promoting historical, scientific and technological research for the benefit of Tasmanians.