28 February 2007

A fitting tribute has been made to Emeritus Professor Bob Milns, AM, with the University of Queensland’s Antiquities Museum recently renamed in his honour.

Professor Milns retired in 2003 after 33 years as UQ Professor of Classics and Ancient History, during which time he built the museum into an invaluable resource for teaching and research.

“The name Bob Milns has become synonymous with Classics, Ancient History and the Antiquities Museum at UQ,” University Vice-Chancellor Professor John Hay, AC, said.

“Under Bob’s leadership, the museum has grown into one of the country’s finest collections of its kind – a reflection of the quality of his scholarship and passion for the discipline.

“Renaming the museum is a well-deserved and appropriate tribute to his ongoing contribution to the University of Queensland and the community at large.”

A graduate of Leeds University and Cambridge, in both of which he gained first-class honours, Professor Milns was appointed Chair of Classics and Ancient History in 1970, holding the position until his retirement.

An expert on Alexander the Great and his father, Philip II of Macedon, Professor Milns on taking up his appointment fostered the display and promotion of the then-small collection of antiquities, which has since been joined by more than 1000 objects – the oldest dating back more than 4000 years.

“I always insisted that the objects in the museum, while belonging to the University, are also public treasures,” Professor Milns said.

“I’ve always believed that they should be promoted outside the University, and that the public should have the opportunity to come and see them.”

The museum’s focus is on Greek and Roman artefacts, with a particularly strong collection of ancient coins.

Professor Milns said the museum continued to be popular with school groups, UQ students and scholars from around the world.

“The history of both Greece and Rome very definitely underpin western civilisations,” he said.

“It’s not just the historical figures, but the philosophers, the playwrights and the poets, and people understand and appreciate this and they want to come and learn about them.”

In addition to serving as head of department for many years, Professor Milns held several positions within the University’s administration, including as a UQ Senator and long-serving member of the Academic Board.

His many awards include Member of the Order of Australia (1997), a Centenary Medal in 2003, and the “Niki” award of the Australian Hellenic Council for distinguished service.

Since 2004 he has been an Honorary Research Consultant within the discipline of Classics and Ancient History, a position he plans to hold for many years to come.

“I cannot really imagine a life without contact with my discipline and my students and those two things mean being here at the University of Queensland in an honorary capacity as long as the ageing bones and brain will allow,” Professor Milns said.

The RD Milns Antiquities Museum is on the third floor of the Michie Building at UQ’s St Lucia campus, and is open for visitors 9 – 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Further information is available from the Antiquities Museum web site.