The Chemistry Collection


Ernst Johannes Hartung was a chemist and astronomer. Educated at the University of Melbourne (BSc 1913, DSc 1919), he became lecturer in 1919, associate professor in 1924, and succeeded Rivett as chair of chemistry in 1928, remaining in this position until 1953.

Hartung’s lecturing style surged with enthusiasm and he employed the use of screen projections to demonstrate chemical phenomena to large undergraduate classes. In 1935 he recorded Brownian movement in colloidal solutions on 35 mm cinefilm, which was later copied onto 16 mm film for the Eastman Kodak Co. World Science Library. This can be viewed in the Chemistry laboratory. He researched the photo decomposition of silver halides, and was awarded the David Syme Prize in 1926. He devoted time to the design and construction of a large, new chemistry building for the School of Chemistry (built 1938–1939). 

During World War II he was approached by Professor Thomas Laby, chairman of the Optical Munitions Panel, to chair the advisory committee on optical materials, to produce high quality optical glass in Australia. This was successful, with large-scale production achieved within ten months at a reasonable cost.

Hartung served three terms as general President of the (Royal) Australian Chemical Institute, was an ex-officio councillor of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, and a Trustee of the Museum of Applied Science (now part of Museum Victoria).

Associated collection items:

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