Paying Tribute to Dr Bill Birch (Museum Victoria)
“Old Rocker” Set for Retirement
The turn of the year might be a time for new beginnings, but for one member of the Museum Victoria’s dedicated staff, the last day of December marks retirement after forty years as a curator. The Museum’s (Museum Victoria, based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), longest serving employee, Senior Curator for Geosciences Dr Bill Birch is going to be leaving the museum, but the dedicated geologist will still be making a contribution to Victoria’s geological heritage.
Dr Bill Birch
Very few visitors to a museum fully appreciate the hard work and sheer effort that goes into maintaining exhibits, looking after collections and managing departments. With the news of Dr Birch’s retirement, we at Everything Dinosaur, who do a lot of work with museums and other institutions around the world, wanted to take time out to pay tribute to all the enthusiastic and long-serving members of museum staff who do so much to help with public outreach and education.
Picture credit: Museum Victoria
A Long and Successful Career
Dr Birch’s career at the Museum began in January 1974. One of his first tasks was to update the historical geological collections and to apply modern approaches to curating as well as expanding the material held at the Museum via field trips, donations and acquisitions. As well as assembling an extensive inventory of Victoria’s diverse geological make-up, he has built the international component of the collections through expeditions to Greenland, Siberia, Pakistan, and Canada.
He regards those collecting excursions as some of many highlights of those forty years, alongside the Dynamic Earth exhibition, which opened in Melbourne Museum in 2010.
Commenting on the highly successful exhibition, Dr Birch stated:
“Before then, very few of our best specimens were on display for the public to see. That exhibit has put some of our discoveries and acquisitions front and centre.”
Thanks to his efforts, in collaboration with colleagues, the Melbourne based museum has established a strong, world-wide reputation for geological research. Bill, himself has written several books, had many hundreds of academic papers published and the Museum Victoria has more than forty “type” specimens of new minerals that Dr Birch helped to formally describe amongst its much expanded collections.
With a life-long passion for geology, Bill describes never having felt unhappy about going to work and states that the Museum’s collections “became the foundation of my working life”.
One of the great joys about geology (and palaeontology for that matter), is that you are never too young or too old to get involved. Official retirement might beckon after forty years of dedicated service, but for Dr Birch there is still so much work for him to do. He is expecting to work up to three days a week on further research as an Honorary Research Associate and Emeritus Curator with Museum Victoria.
Today, we pay tribute to all the those hard working, enthusiastic people, like Dr Bill Birch, who have contributed so much over a their long careers in the Earth Sciences.
Have a long and happy retirement.