This display celebrates the work of Noel Monkman (1896-1968), who pioneered underwater cine-photography and recorded the life histories of microscopic life.
Driven by a lifetime’s interest in photography, microscopes and nature, Noel Monkman’s eclectic career spanned the early decades of the Twentieth Century and saw him move from being a theatre musician to making natural history documentaries and films.
The focus of many of his films was the Great Barrier Reef.
Along with his wife Kitty, Noel set up a permanent base on Green Island offshore from Cairns in 1956, establishing a well-equipped laboratory for marine research, cine and photomicrography. Later they built the Great Barrier Reef Theatre on the island where they screened their natural history films.
The current research station on the island has been named after the couple.
The Monkman Collection of microscopes, equipment, transparencies and commercial micro-slides was donated to James Cook University by Kitty Monkman following Noel’s death in 1968.
The collection was then donated to the museum by Mr Zoltan Florian (former Curator of Microscopes, James Cook University) and Dr Leigh Winsor (Research Fellow, College of Marine and Environmental Sciences, James Cook University), both of whom had restored and conserved the collection for many years and wanted to ensure the objects and their stories would be held safely for future generations.
One of the Monkman’s films, Australia’s Coral Wonderland (c. 1950), will be screened in the museum theatre twice a day at 10.30am and 1pm while the display is open.*
*Subject to change. Please confirm screening times before visiting. Phone (07) 4726 0627.