The Royal Society of Tasmania

The Royal Society of Tasmania is the oldest scientific society in Australia and New Zealand and the third oldest Royal Society in the Commonwealth.

The Society was founded in 1843 by Sir John Eardley-Wilmot, Lieutenant Governor, as the Botanical and Horticultural Society of Van Diemen's Land. Its aim was to 'develop the physical character of the Island and illustrate its natural history and productions'.

The Royal Society's aim is the advancement of knowledge by:

  • Organising lectures and symposia on a wide variety of topics;
  • Publishing a scientific and scholarly journal;
  • Maintaining a library within the University of Tasmania; and 
  • Offering awards to encourage and recognise intellectual excellence.

The Royal Society of Tasmania first met on 14 October 1843 as the Van Diemen's Land Horticultural Society.

Its aim then was to 'develop the physical character of the Island and illustrate its natural history and productions'. A Royal Warrant was issued in 1844 and in 1855 it became the Royal Society of Tasmania (the first outside the British Isles.)

In its early years, the Society established the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. It also began building substantial collections of both art and natural history specimens, all housed in the Royal Society Museum.

These collections became the basis of the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery when, in 1885, the Society gave them to the Government, reserving ownership only of mostly works on paper.

In 1965, these remaining works some 700 were placed on long-term loan with the state institution.

The Society has proved as relevant today as it was in the 1840s.

For 150 years it has worked to develop knowledge about Tasmania and it continues its close association with both the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery and the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens.

Contact the Royal Society of Tasmania

Royal Society of Tasmania

GPO Box 1164
Hobart TAS 7001

Phone: (03) 6211 4104

Email: info@rst.org.au