The Haswell Museum

In 1890, the Challis Bequest of 200,000 pounds was used to establish a Chair of Zoology at The University of Sydney. William Aitcheson Haswell, a demonstrator in zoology since 1882 was appointed, and so became the first Challis Professor of Zoology. He had been described by his Professor at the University of Edinburgh as "an excellent naturalist...and a thoroughly reliable gentleman". When the original Zoology Building was completed on the present site in 1903 he was delighted to move his collection of teaching specimens from all round the world into a specially designated museum. This collection formed the nucleus of today's museum which has been continuously used and added to ever since. Some of the original specimens are now over 100 years old. The Museum has recently been relocated to new premises on the ground floor of the Macleay Building.

Thus The Haswell Museum today is a valuable and historic collection of approximately 7,000 specimens. Most zoological phyla are represented, vertebrate and invertebrate animals, Australian and foreign species. The majority of specimens are stored in liquid preservatives, mainly 70% alcohol, but there is also some dry material and a small collection of fossils. Many specimens are sealed in display jars. Material is mainly used for undergraduate teaching but is always available for research. At present 7 glass cabinets in the front foyer of the Macleay building A12 are used for displays of museum material which illustrate current topics in Intermediate Biology Animals courses and students are required to spend 1 hour per week studying these as part of their coursework. Each of these displays changes every 5-6 weeks during semester.

The museum curator is Heather Sowden who works part-time. Research workers within the School are free to use the Museum at any time. Specimens are available for loan on request to anyone in The School of Biological Sciences. Outside loans require a deposit and a modest fee. There is also an extensive collection of colour transparencies available for loan including Isobel Bennett's marine invertebrates. A comprehensive dry collection of vertebrate skulls and skeletons can also be accessed.

The curator is always willing to give advice on museum techniques such as collection, preservation, storage and labelling of specimens; and can help in identifying animals especially invertebrates. Printed notes on preservation techniques can be supplied.

The collection is always being added to, especially material useful for teaching courses, and donations of interesting specimens are always welcome.