CSL (Commonwealth Serum Laboratories) Collection




The Museum's Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) collection includes over 500 artefacts from the period 1916 to 1984. The objects were originally collected by CSL staff and its museum volunteers and reflect the vital contribution CSL has made to public health in Australia.

The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL) was founded by the Australian Government in 1916 in Melbourne, Victoria. The organisation originally provided life-saving products to a country isolated by war and is renowned for its early and recent work in the areas of penicillin, antivenoms, hormones, vaccines and blood products. The Museum's CSL collection includes over 400 artefacts from the period 1916 to 1984. The objects were originally collected by CSL staff and volunteers for the CSL Museum, which was once located at the CSL site in Parkville. The collection includes laboratory equipment, instruments, product samples, glassware, and a samples case used by CSL's first medical sales representative while travelling the east coast of Australia.The collection highlights just some of the contributions made by CSL to public health in Australia. The first vaccine produced by CSL in 1919 was used to protect Australians from the pandemic of Spanish influenza. By the 1930s, CSL was producing a wide range of products, including insulin and vaccines to diphtheria, gonorrhoea and typhoid. CSL is renowned for having rapidly implemented methods for the large-scale manufacture of penicillin following the discoveries of Howard Florey in 1939. By 1944, penicillin was available to Australians fighting in the Pacific. Australian citizens were the first in the world to have general access to penicillin. In 1930, CSL and the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute developed the first antivenomfor tiger snake bits. CSL continued to develop antivenoms to all venomous Australian snakes, as well as the Red-back Spider and Funnel-web Spider. Other antivenoms produced by CSL save against bites from at least 6 other deadly snake species as well as ticks, box jellyfish and stonefish. In 1994, CSL Ltd was sold by the Australian Government and listed on the Australian Stock Exchange and has achieved considerable success in the international market for bioproducts and pharmaceuticals. The company continues to hold related business and research records, including a photographic collection.

Please direct access requests via Museum Victoria's Discovery Centre


1916-1984; Allergens; Anti-Venoms; Antibiotics; Bacteriology; Biotechnology; Blood Analysis; Diabetes; Diphtheria; First Aid Kits; Hepatitis; Hormones; Immunology; Infectious Diseases; Influenza; Laboratory Apparatus; Laboratory Apparatus & Equipment; Laboratory Glassware; Leptospirosis; Medical Diagnostic Tests; Medical Research; Medicinals & Drugs; Medicines; Microscope Accessories; Microscopes; Penicillin; Pharmaceuticals; Pharmaceuticals Apparatus & Instruments; Polio (Poliomyelitis); Smallpox; Standard Weights & Measures; Tetanus; Tissue Culture Equipment; Tuberculosis; Vaccines; Veterinary Medicines; Veterinary Science; Viral Infections

Coverage Spatial

Parkville, Victoria, Australia; Australia; Victoria, Australia

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2011-03-31 18:32