The Collections of the National Herbarium of Victoria (MEL) hold a rich resource of more than one million dried plant and fungi specimens, as well as a comprehensive botanical library of printed material, artwork, letters and manuscripts, photographs, maps and museum items. The collections are an invaluable research resource for scientists, land managers and historians, and collectively comprise the State Botanical Collection.
From time to time, as resources allow, distinct projects are undertaken to improve access to the collections, including progressively mounting and databasing the specimens. In recent years this has included the Foreign Fabaceae Project and the digitisation of all Australian type specimens for the Global Plants Initiative; a much longer term project has been the Mueller correspondence project.
The Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne provides research access to the Collections through an active loans program as well as by appointment for visiting researchers. In July 2011, over 100 visiting researchers accessed the Collections while attending the XVIII International Botanical Congress (IBC) in Melbourne. During this fortnight, researchers examined and annotated 2,500 specimen sheets and identified 200 type specimens.