About the Museum Collections

Place-based collections at our historic houses and museums

Behind closed doors, there’s always a story to tell. This group of place-based collections help bring these stories to life in our historic houses and museums. Each offers a rare opportunity to walk in the shoes of those who lived, worked or visited there. To retrace their steps and travel through time.

With over 440,000 items, including highly significant archaeological remnants, this group of collections is remarkably diverse, reflecting the daily lives, choices, passions and key events that have unfolded at each site – each object a revelation of life as it was, in its rightful place. As you move from room to room, the past is re-lived. A wooden trunk that carried a young Irish orphan’s few possessions to Sydney. A mixmaster in a 1950s kitchen. A well-used bench on a 19th-century flagstone verandah. Curtains, furniture, books, each with its own story yet connected to many others.

The collections are a mix of items directly associated with the particular house or museum, often acquired with the property itself, for example furniture, furnishings and family papers, and others acquired later to help interpret those places. Each house or museum has a different acquisitions policy and this forms the basis for any additions made to the collections.