Culture Victoria

University of Melbourne, The School of Physics Museum

Level 2, School of Physics, Swanston Street, University of Melbourne PARKVILLE Phone: (03) 8344 5076 Visit Website

The collection of the Physics Museum at the University of Melbourne comprises some 350 items of historical and scientific interest, concentrating on scientific apparatus constructed by former professors and staff for research purposes.

Our Collection

The School of Physics Museum comprises some 350 items of equipment and photographs spanning the history of the School of Physics, which was established as the School of Natural Philosophy in the 1880s. The museum has an emphasis on scientific apparatus constructed in the School for research undertaken by former professors and staff. There are significant holdings of ruling engines and diffraction gratings developed by Henry Grayson and Professor Thomas Lyle as well as apparatus emerging from optical munitions research directed by Professor Thomas Laby during the Second World War.

The collections of the School of Physics Museum have significance for their documentation of important scientific research and innovation that has taken place at the University of Melbourne. The majority of the apparatus in the collection consists of experimental research apparatus and demonstration equipment, some of which were to find international application in Physics research. An item of particular note is the Henry J. Grayson Diffraction Grating Ruling Engine, developed for ruling test lines on a microscopic slide to test the resolution of microscopes. Also of significance are objects related to optical munitions research conducted by the University during World War Two. The first piece of optical glass made in Australia was produced in the School of Chemistry in 1941. The objects associated with this research are tangible reminders of the important role the university based scientific community played in the war effort.

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