Chapter 3: 1969 – 1999 (30 years) Out with the old and in with the new | QMN History

In 1969, Alan Bartholomai was appointed Director, coming into office in a time of great growth in Queensland. Museums and universities were expanding at a fast pace and graduates were being employed.

At Queensland Museum new curatorships were created in arachnology, molluscs, history and technology, higher invertebrates, lower invertebrates, industrial archaeology, maritime archaeology, lower entomology and scientist in charge of materials conservation.

It was also during this time, there was rapid growth with new displays being developed at an unprecedented rate as public interest in museums was growing, the organisation was becoming more community orientated.

In 1970 the Queensland Museum Act 1970 was enacted, which defined the museum’s charter and the first chairman was appointed – lawyer and historian, JCH Gill, who, along with the new trustees were tasked with finding a new home for the museum.

This act also provided the Board with the provision to establish Branch Museums, which would see the development of Museum of Tropical Queensland (1987), Cobb+Co Museum (1987), Sciencentre – Brisbane (1989) and the Railway Historical Museum (1990), which would later become The Workshops Rail Museum in 2002.

In 1973, the Art Gallery moved out of the Old Museum Building due to structural issues and leakage, repairs were made, allowing the museum to occupy the whole building.  The additional area was utilised as a work area for art, photography and geology.

The following year the proposed establishment of a cultural centre in South Brisbane comprising the Art Gallery, Queensland Museum, State Library and Performing Arts Centre was announced by the Treasurer – it would be more than a decade before the museum moved.

In 1976, the triceratops, which currently sits in the Dinosaur Garden was purchased from New York for $15,000 and two years later the Tyrannosaurus Rex was purchased and they were set up in the gardens at the Old Museum near Mephisto.

Construction of the new museum in the Cultural Centre started in 1982 and was completed in 1985 – during this time planning and construction of new displays began and were developed as pods to be stored at West End until the museum as completed. Dame Margaret Weston, Director of the Science Museum London was appointed consultant on planning aspects associated with the building and display program.

In 1985, the Old Museum was closed and 101 staff, along with two million collection items were packed and transferred to the new museum. More than 8000 visitors made a trip to the Old Museum on its last day open – 3 November 1985.

The following year saw the new museum open on 2 October with two years of celebrations planned, while staffing numbers increased to 147.

By 1999, there was 270 paid staff with 763,678 visitors to Queensland Museum in South Bank. In October, Alan Bartholomai retired after 40 years of service to the museum.

Read more about Queensland Museum Network’s History:

Chapter 1: 1862 – 1918 (56 Years) A Fledgling Natural History Museum

Chapter 2: 1918 – 1968 (50 Years) A museum that is developing

Queensland Museum Staff Photo, outside old museum Bowen Hills.
Loading the model of Triceratops ready for moving from Queensland Museum’s Gregory Terrace premises to the new building at South Bank in 1986.