The wood collection was initially assembled for researching and teaching wood science, within forestry education in Australia, following the establishment of the Australian Forestry School in Canberra (1927).
While not the largest in Australia, the collection has considerable significance, both for its historical antecedents, and for its future potential as a research collection.
The collection is currently in good condition, but the rooms in which it has been stored in the ANU Forestry Building are required for other purposes.
This report identifies key elements of the significance of the ANU Forestry Wood Collection, using the methodology and criteria for assessing the significance of objects and collections outlined in the Collections Council of Australia publication, Significance 2.0 (2009). Research was undertaken into the collections historical context, an examination of collection items and their provenance, and consultation was undertaken with users, both past and present.
The ANU Forestry Wood Collection retains a high degree of research significance as sufficient material exists for resampling for investigative purposes by wood anatomists, archaeologists, anthropologists, furniture and decorative arts conservators, art historians and forensic scientists. Recent Commonwealth Government legislation requiring verification of the legality of imported timber products may also involve the collection.
The collection has a high degree of completeness and integrity, as all samples can be correlated with indexes in ledgers, on cards and on electronic databases.
The collection retains historic significance for its connection to Forestry education in Australia as well as links to significant built heritage in Canberra. The collections aesthetic significance, while principally pertaining to the woods intrinsic beauty as a display element, adds to its significance and the collection also has an interpretive capacity for museum and exhibition purposes.
The ANU Forestry Wood Collection consists of four distinct collection groupings: the Wood Library (xylarium) which contains both local and exotic timber samples; the Dadswell Collection of Australian timber samples; and a collection of timber samples collected in wartime Papua New Guinea to assess the suitability of local timbers for military use. In addition, there is a collection of varnished timber display boards, thought to have come originally from the former Forestry School building in Yarralumla, that have been on display in the Department of Forestry building at ANU. All these collections are comprehensively documented in a range of formats, from paper index cards to computer spreadsheets and databases.