By Lindsey Gray – 17.3.2016

In 2016, a dedicated team lead, by Rosanne Quinnell from School of Life and Environmental Sciences, and the Macleay Museum Project Haswell are working together to digistise Haswell’s delightful collection. We are creating a digital database of the collection that will include beautiful digital images of every specimen.  This database will be published online and linked to the Atlas of Living Australia. We want researchers, teachers, curious members of the public, and of course Zoology students worldwide to continue to benefit from Haswell’s dedicated, meticulous work.

The Haswell Museum is a fascinating historical collection of teaching specimens assembled and curated by the University of Sydney’s first Challis Professor of Zoology, William Aitcheson Haswell (1854-1925).


Haswell was an immensely talented scientist and a true visionary. He was an enthusiastic champion of the Biological Sciences within the University and possessed extensive personal expertise in Australasian Marine Zoology. A close colleague of Sir William John Macleay, Haswell was made President of Macleay’s initiative The Linnean Society of New South Wales in both 1892 and 1893. He was awarded the New South Wales Royal Society W.B. Clarke medal in 1915.

Haswell’s impressive teaching collection has survived for the last 130 years under the careful custodianship of the University of Sydney’s School of Life and Environmental Sciences. Haswell’s Museum contains precisely the right combinations of specimens to facilitate a broad understanding of animal evolution and comparative animal physiology. Remarkably, many specimens have been in constant use since their purchase. It is inspiring to reflect on incredible number of students that have been engaged in Zoology through Haswell’s work.


100+ year old Haswell Museum mammal skulls prepared and ready for photography – University of Sydney

Uniquely the collection predominately contains Australasian specimens, and Haswell co-authored (with Professor T. Jeffrey Parker) a seminal Southern Hemisphere themed Zoology text, A Text Book of Zoology. The book drew directly on Haswell’s collection and is it still possible to match physical specimens from the collection to technical images featured in A Text Book of Zoology.

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