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Biographical entry Penfold, Arthur de Ramon (1890 - 1980)

4 August 1890
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
16 June 1980
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Museum director and Chemist


Arthur Penfold was Curator and Director of the Technological Museum (later Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences) in Sydney between 1927 and 1955. Earlier he had been a research chemist with the eucalyptus oil distillers, Gillard Gordon Ltd 1915-1919 after which he became H.G. Smith's assistant at the Museum. He introduced a number of innovations in the way in which the Museum was managed, and was successful in his efforts to have the Museum placed under the management of a Trust with its consequent change of name. Penfold was known for his research into the volatile oils of the Australian flora, particularly the genus Eucalyptus. He was President of the Royal Society of New South Wales in 1935 and an active member in professional organisations.



1913 - 1948
Career position - Founder and inaugural Secretary, Sydney Technical College Chemical Society
1915 - 1919
Career position - Research chemist, Gillard Gordon Ltd
1919 - 1920
Career position - Research assistant, Technological Museum, Sydney
1920 - 1927
Career position - Economic Chemist, Research assistant, Technological Museum, Sydney
1927 - 1948
Career position - Curator, Technological Museum, Sydney
1929 - 1939
Career position - Member of Council, Royal Society of New South Wales
Award - H. G. Smith Memorial Medal, Royal Australian Chemical Institute
1935 - 1936
Career position - President, Royal Society of New South Wales
1937 - 1955
Career position - Secretary/Treasurer, Art Galleries and Museums Association of Australia and New Zealand
Career position - Foundation Chairman, Australian Section, Oil and Colour Chemists' Association
1948 - 1950
Career position - Director, Technological Museum, Sydney
1950 - 1955
Career position - Director, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney
Award - Royal Society of New South Wales Medal
Award - Fritzsche Award, American Chemical Society
Life event - Retired
1961 - 1980
Award - Life Member, Plastics Institute of Australia

Related Awards

Related Corporate Bodies

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection

  • Arthur de Ramon Penfold - Records, 1900 - 1956, MS 4515; National Library of Australia Manuscript Collection. Details

Powerhouse Museum

  • Arthur de Ramon Penfold - Records, 1897 - 1956, MA 128, MRS 225; Powerhouse Museum. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • Penfold, A. R.; & Morrison, F. R., Guide to the extraction of Eucalyptus oil in the field, Bulletin 4, Technological Museum, Sydney, Thomas Henry Tennant, Government Printer, Sydney, NSW, 1945, 15 pp. Details
  • Penfold, Arthur de Ramon, Eucalyptus : the essence of Australia, Government Printer,, Sydney, 1930, 8 pp. Details
  • Penfold, Arthur de Ramon, and Willis, Jack Lehane, The eucalypts : botany, cultivation, chemistry, and utilization, Leonard Hill, London, 1961, 551 pp. Details
  • Penfold, Arthur de Ramon.; Morrison, Frank Richard, Commercial Eucalyptus oils, 5th edn, Department of Technical EducationMuseum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Department. Of Technical Education, Sydney, 1951, 35 pp. Details

Book Sections

Journal Articles

  • 'Obituaries. Arthur de Ramon Penfold', Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales, vol. 113, no. 3-4, 1980, pp. 100-101. Details
  • McKern, H. H. G., 'The Chemists of Australia: Arthur de Ramon Penfold, 1890-1980', Chemistry in Australia, vol. 48, 1981, pp. 327-330. Details
  • Pearson, Michael, 'The good oil: eucalyptus oil distilleries in Australia.', Australasian Historical Archaeology, vol. 11, 1993, pp. 99-107. Details
  • Penfold, A.R.; & Willis, J. L., 'The Essential Oil Industry of Australia', Economic Botany, vol. 8, no. 4, 1954, pp. 316-336. Details


See also

  • Hall, Norman, Botanists of the Eucalypts: short biographies of people who have named eucalypts, whose names have been given to species or who have collected type material, CSIRO, Melbourne, 1978, 101 pp. Details

McCarthy, G.J. and Helen Cohn