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AWI preserving history of Australian Merino industry

Jun '07
Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) has funded the preservation and cataloguing of historical wool collections which span the period from 1804 to the present and photographic material dating from the 1800's.

Five thousand samples have been preserved. One thousand of those have been measured and photographed using modern equipment, to determine the characteristics and features of prominent Merino bloodlines across two centuries.

Dr Paul Swan, Knowledge Services Manager at AWI said through partnership with the Powerhouse Museum, AWI has helped preserve an important part of the heritage of the Australian Merino industry.

“It was common practice for studs to send the Museum (established in 1879), samples from prize winning rams and ewes. The result is that many of the most influential sheep studs, and stud breeders in the history of the Australian Merino industry are represented in the collection,” said Dr Swan.

“Much of this carefully preserved material collected by the Museum was uncatalogued and inaccessible to researchers, and so essentially we have not had a true appreciation of the value and scope of these collections. The Powerhouse Museum approached AWI in November for assistance with the collation and testing of the material, to ensure that it was preserved and made accessible.

“One thousand of the fleece samples have now been catalogued, tested using modern OFFM equipment, and digitally photographed including macro images. Some of the results are amazing, and tell a wonderful story about the evolution of the modern Australian Merino.

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