About the Australian Museum

The Australian Museum is a place of exploration and discovery, with a mission to inspire responsibility for the world by promoting knowledge, understanding and enjoyment of science, nature and culture.

It is the oldest museum in Australia, with an international reputation in the fields of natural history and anthropology. The Australian Museum’s Archives holds the history of the Museum from 1827 as well as collections of photographs, scientific illustrations and personal papers about Australian science and indigenous cultures.

Digital Initiatives

The Australian Museum is exploring a number of digital technologies and strategies in order to extend the traditional boundaries of access, communication and interaction with the public. We have already developed a number of specialised mobile apps focused on our science and exhibition programs.

Our objective, with the apps4nsw mobile app competition, is to make the world of scientific illustration accessible to a wide audience.


Beauty from Nature: the Scott Sisters

A collection of illustrations, diaries, manuscripts, published books, social histories and botanical and insect specimens from the 1840s to 1890s linked to current data on Australian moths, butterflies and plants.

The Scott Sisters collection was originally curated for an exhibition at the Australian Museum in 2011 as an opportunity for visitors to step back in time and admire the simple beauty of 19th century nature through the eyes of two young women whose pioneering work as scientific illustrators was praised for both scientific accuracy and artistic merit. The exhibition is currently on tour in regional NSW.

Data types

  • CSV, JSON, web services
  • Images: JPEG
  • Videos: MPEG-4
  • Metadata, transcriptions of diaries, narratives, current scientific nomenclature: exported from KE EMu collection database as CSV files

 Example datasets are supplied at http://australianmuseum.net.au/Scott-Sisters-collection-and-science-data/

What makes this sample data unique:

The Australian Museum is publishing data from two databases which track the life histories and immature stages of Australian moths and butterflies from the 1800s, via our EMu collections database, through to the field records of moth and butterfly species today using the Atlas of Living Australia which aggregates data from government agencies, universities and individuals.

The unique feature is that we are aiming to link this data through the app and tell a new story about scientific discovery in Australia.

Audience assumptions


  • Culturally active adults with an interest in art, history and science
  • Groups such as natural history and archive enthusiasts, historians, artists
  • Entomological associations, environmental and amateur groups
  • Culturally active families as well as regular visitors to the Museum
  • School groups (primary and secondary)


  • Tertiary students – participants in visual arts
  • TAFE, colleges – design and art students


Minimum requirements:

  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Compliance with AA accessibility standards
  • Incorporate Google Analytics SDK
  • Versioning, shelf-life to be agreed
  • Consider that the data and content maybe more appropriate for tablet devices                                                                   

Risk, challenges, assumptions

  • The deadline is challenging as development time is tight and it falls across a seasonal holiday. We will aim to ensure that key Museum stakeholders are available for signoffs and also negotiate a realistic scope of work with the developers.
  • The Museum can provide subject matter experts, however, design and technical resources are limited. The assumption is that the chosen development team will be able to provide or contract resources as required to fulfil the brief.

 For further reference:

This challenge is based on one of the Australian Museum's concepts "Diaries & Notebooks'.  This concept is described & included in the video taken from their pitch at the apps4nsw unlocked workshop held in August 2013.