Ferdinand von Mueller : biography
Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller, KCMG (German: Müller) (30 June 1825 – 10 October 1896) was a German-Australian physician, geographer, and most notably, a botanist.
Artworks based on Mueller
- Love, Death, Music and Plants, a music theatre work based on scenes from the life of Mueller, was written by Brian Lipson (writer) and Matthew Hindson (composer), and had a two-week season at the Mueller Hall, National Herbarium of Victoria, 18–30 November 2003.http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/11/13/1068674297171.html
Victorian Government Botanist
He was appointed Government Botanist for Victoria by Governor Charles La Trobe in 1853 (a post that was newly created for him), and examined its flora, and especially the Alpine vegetation of Australia, which was previously unknown. He explored the Buffalo Ranges, then went to the upper reaches of the Goulburn River and across Gippsland to the coast. The neighbourhoods of Port Albert and Wilsons Promontory were explored, and the journey of some was completed along the coast to Melbourne
In the same year, he established the National Herbarium of Victoria, which can still be visited today. It has many plants from Australia and abroad, many of which were collected by Mueller. Also, his large private library was transferred to the Government of Victoria in 1865 and is incorporated into the Library of the Herbarium in Melbourne.Victoria,1864– 5, Parliamentary Papers, No, 72: "Annual Report of the Government Botanist and Director of the Botanic Garden.
Then, as phytographic naturalist, he joined the expedition sent out under Augustus Gregory by the Duke of Newcastle, Secretary of State for the Colonies. He explored the Victoria River and other portions of North Australia, was one of the four who reached Termination Lake in 1856, and accompanied Gregory's expedition overland to Moreton Bay. Mueller, for his part, found nearly 800 species new to Australia. He published in this year his Definitions of Rare or Hitherto Undescribed Australian Plants.
From 1854 to 1872, Mueller was a member of the Victorian Institute for the Advancement of Science, which later became the Philosophical Institute of Victoria. He was President of the Philosophical Institute in 1859 when it received a Royal Charter and became the Royal Society of Victoria. He was an active member of the Society's "Exploration Committee" which established the Burke and Wills expedition of 1860. Mueller promoted the exploration of Australia, and as one of only two members of the Exploration Committee with any experience of exploration, he made several speeches to the Society on the topic. He did not favour the selection of Burke as leader and, unfortunately, had little say in the establishment, provisioning and composition of the exploration party due to factionalism in the committee.Lost Explorers by Ed Wright Murdock Books 2008 ISBN 978-1-74196-139-3
From 1857 to 1873, he was director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, and not only introduced many plants into Victoria, but made the excellent qualities of the blue gum (Eucalyptus globulus) known all over the world, and succeeded in introducing it into the south of Europe, North and South Africa, California, and the extratropical portions of South America.
For these services, Mueller was decorated by many foreign countries, including Germany, France, Spain, Denmark and Portugal. He was appointed Fellow of the Royal Society in 1861, and knighted as KCMG in 1879. A list of his 'Orders, offices, affiliations and sundry honours' has been assembledHome et al., vol 3, pp. 838 – 858.
He was the benefactor of explorer Ernest Giles, the discoverer of Lake Amadeus and Kata Tjuta. Giles had originally wanted to name these Lake Mueller and Mt Ferdinand,http://www.environment.gov.au/parks/uluru/management/history/european-contact.html but Mueller prevailed upon Giles to name them Lake Amadeus, after King Amadeus of Spain, and Mt Olga, after Queen Olga of Württemberg, both of whom had granted him honours. In 1871, King Karl of Württemberg and Queen Olga gave him the hereditary title of Freiherr, to mark his distinction in 'natural sciences generally and in particular for the natural history collections and institutions of Our Kingdom'Letter patent by Karl I, 6 July 1871, reproduced and translated in Home et al., vol 2, pp 580 – 582 He was then known as Baron Sir Ferdinand von Mueller.http://www.whitlam.org/collection/1992/19920724_nationallibraryofaustralia_naura1888-1900
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