Founded in 1853, the National Herbarium of Victoria is the oldest scientific institution in Victoria. The herbarium was established to house the State Botanical Collection, one of Australia's most valuable biological research repositories.

This internationally significant collection is the largest herbarium collection in Oceania, comprising 1.562 million dried plant, algae and fungi specimens. It includes over 30,100 types, making it the largest repository of type materials in the Southern Hemisphere. Approximately 23,100 of the type specimens represent Australian flora, while 7,000 are from overseas.

The State Botanical Collection also includes Australia's largest botanical library, an associated archive, and a collection of significant botanical artworks.