Collections

Three collections, millions of items, unlimited stories

Museums of History NSW is the new home of three of the state’s most significant and fascinating collections. Dive in and explore.

Experience the collections

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Watercolour of a group of people landing ashore
Featured display

Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Caroline Simpson Library

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Caroline Simpson Library, which was created through an extraordinary cultural gift donated by the children of Caroline Simpson OAM (1930–2003).

Government Printing Office 1 - 02086 - Oyster bed [From NSW Government Printer series: Ballina], 1926
21 June, 10.30am
Online talk

Oyster leases

This webinar will focus on the Oyster Lease Cultures files, which tell the stories of the people who held these leases between 1920 and 1978

The Lord's Prayer - Religious tract written in an Aboriginal language 1836
5 July, 10:30am
Online talk

First Nations Community Access to Archives

Join the First Nations Community Access to Archives project team in deep listening to learn about the journey of storytelling, truth-telling and language revitalisation.

Government Printing Office; NRS 4481, Glass negatives. NRS-4481-3-[7/15883]-M2439 | Government Printing Office 1 - 30700 - Supreme Court, King and Elizabeth Streets, Sydney [From NSW Government Printer series: City Views]
30 August, 10.30am
Online talk

'Equitable Relief': Equity Court records in the State Archives Collection

This webinar will explore records of the Equity Division of the Supreme Court, how to find them, and what they can tell you.

A federation style house under construction

Collections on Tour 2024

Museums of History NSW is on the road again, sharing our stories with the people of regional NSW

Aboriginal Languages and Nations in NSW & ACT © Reconciliation NSW

First Nations Community Access to Archives

This project aims to improve access for First Nations people to important archival material about culture, kinship, stories, and languages within the State Archives Collection

Webinars

Portrait of a man

Colonial Secretary's minutes, 1826-1927

A deep dive into the minutes, highlighting how these documents that dealt with Government policy, detailed plans and proposals also captured the lives of individual people, and how to find them

Top half of a page from an inquest file titled 'Inquisition before Coroner sitting alone'

Using the inquest index

Now with surviving inquest papers from 1916-1939 and April–December 1963 (Glebe Coroners Court), this webinar shows you how to use the inquest index and explore the new additions

Students and teacher in front of an old school house

Married women teachers declarations

These records are digitised and available to search and view in our catalogue. This webinar explores the declarations, why they were required and how to find them.

Children playing outside with see saw and ride on elephant

Public Works photographs: an unsung treasure

The amazing quality and variety of the photographs taken by the Public Works Department is a testament to the photographers. This webinar explores these images in depth

Photo of children in dress up clothes

Unlocking Past Lives

Join Matthew Stephens, research librarian at the Caroline Simpson Library, as he uses the library’s specialist collection to explore the contexts of a selection of historic family photographs

Vivienne Chaffer : Colour [interior design student workbook]

Phyllis Shillito and her colour curriculum 1945–1979

This event focused on the colour curriculum of pioneering Sydney-based colour designer and educator Phyllis Shillito (1895–1980) of the 1940s to the 1970s

Watercolour of a group of people landing ashore

The Extraordinary Story of Rose de Freycinet

Hear the story of Rose de Freycinet, the first woman to write an account of a global circumnavigation, with Suzanne Falkiner

Loose-leaf student work book relating to colour and colour theory, titled 'Shillito Ostwald Munsell' / Helen Burgess

Experiencing a Technical Difficulty

Join Dr Catriona Quinn on a journey through Australia’s rich interior design heritage and a deep dive into the studios of design educators in Sydney in the 1940s, 50s and 60s

Latest News

Volunteers document Liverpool State Hospital records

It's National Volunteer Week and we're highlighting the important work our volunteers do in helping to make the Collection more accessible. Our Collections Volunteers have successfully listed over 57,000 patient admission cards from Liverpool Hospital covering 1884 to 1959

Objects from a collection sit next to archival storage boxes
Latest News

Storage on a Shoestring: collections care videos launched

Our Collections Care and Digital teams have been hard at work making make a suite of vocational videos for volunteers and staff working in museums across the state

Image provided by Close the Gap 2024 campaign
Latest News

National Close the Gap Day 2024

Today is National Close the Gap Day 2024. Closing the gap refers to the meaningful action that is required by governments, organisations, communities and individuals to address inequity experienced by First Nations peoples in Australia

A group crowds around a display of archival documents
Latest News

Conserving the archives: a bespoke donor experience

On Thursday 14 March, MHNSW donors enjoyed a fascinating behind-the-scenes tour of the NSW State Archives Collection at the Western Sydney Records Centre

Stories from our collections

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Watercolour of a group of people landing ashore

Rose redacted

How Rose de Freycinet was erased from the official narrative of the 'Uranie' voyage

Equestrian Statue of the King, Astor Flats and Chief Secretary’s Building

The Astor, 1923–2023

Upon completion in 1923, The Astor in Sydney's Macquarie Stree twas the largest reinforced concrete building in Australia, the tallest residential block, and this country’s first company title residences

Ruins of Temple of Vishnu, Dondra, Ceylon

City of Gods, my early experience and toy boat

Inspired by a watercolour of the ruins of the temple of Vishnu, refugee curator in residence Jagath Dheerasekara writes about Devinuvara as a site of pilgrimage, colonisation and uprising

Detail of the four poster bed and beaded watch pockets in the Principal bedroom, Vaucluse House

Watch pockets

Watch pockets hung on the head cloth of a four-post bedstead and originally served in place of bedside tables, which were uncommon in the 19th century

A crowd of people in a rotunda decorated with streamers

Celebrating federation

The Commonwealth of Australia was proclaimed on 1 January 1901. The Federation Pavilion in Sydney’s Centennial Park was the focus of the inauguration ceremonies and a five mile procession through the decorated streets of Sydney was greeted by large crowds

'Day of Mourning' Aboriginal meeting on 26 January 1938 at Australian Hall, Sydney, NSW
First Nations

Day of Mourning

January 26 has long been a day of debate and civic action. Those who celebrate may be surprised of the date’s significance in NSW as a protest to the celebrations of the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet on what was then “Anniversary Day” in NSW

https://www.records.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/styles/juicebox_square_thumbnail/public/Galleries/Sydney%20Opera%20House/12708_00004.jpg?itok=nuDilYgu

The Sydney Opera House Books

Significant publications and reports on the Sydney Opera House project, including the rules for the design competition, plans, drawings and photographs at various stages of the construction

Collections conservation

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Government Printing Office; NRS 4481, Glass negatives. NRS-4481-4-44-[AF00194836] Immigration Barracks Sydney, August 1871 [Department of Public Works]
Conservation

Conservation in action: Hyde Park Barracks northern range refurbishment works

In collaboration with experienced heritage consultants and traditional tradespeople, MHNSW is undertaking conservation works to the northern range buildings

Horticulturalist Stephen Goldsworthy planting seedlings in the kitchen garden
Conservation

Vaucluse House kitchen garden

The Vaucluse House kitchen garden recently underwent a significant rejuvenation project to preserve the site and allow it to continue to be used as a valuable educational resource

Photo of the Wentworth mausoleum with tabled light coming through the trees

Wentworth Mausoleum perimeter fence conservation

MHNSW is undertaking the first comprehensive conservation works to the fence surrounding the 1870s resting place of William Charles Wentworth

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