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).

A watercolour painting of a group crowded around a table, servers bringing food, and a trio of musicians playing in a corner of the room
8 March, 6pm
Talk

The Extraordinary Story of Rose de Freycinet

Writer Suzanne Falkiner discusses her research for her biography of Rose de Freycinet and rare pictorial material from the Caroline Simpson Collection

Inquisition before Coroner sitting alone
22 March, 10:30am
Online talk

Inquest index: 1916-1963

This webinar will show you how to use the recently updated Inquest Index and explore the new additions.

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

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).

Webinars

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

A group of children

Using sensitive collections for your research

This webinar features records of children, the aged and infirm in care and how to access them

A sandstone two storey house

Finding resources about the history of a house

Property records can be complex and confusing, but very rewarding. This webinar focuses on some key sources that can help to search for the history of a house

Cover label Small debts registers [Newcastle Court of Petty Sessions]
Latest News

Archives for Everyone: community digitisation and indexing partnerships

We are looking to partner with groups or societies with an interest in history and in making the State Archives Collection more accessible

A defining image of the Reconciliation Bridge Walk in 2000 with the word ‘Sorry’ in skywriting above.
Latest News

National Apology

This week marks the anniversary of the National Apology. On 13 February 2008, the then prime minister, Kevin Rudd, publicly apologised on behalf of the federal government to the Stolen Generations

Digitised top half of page with the subject line 'Protest against unjust dismissal from the service'
Latest News

Newly digitised archives – married women teachers' applications

The Married Women (Lecturers and Teachers) Act of 1932 restricted employment of married women in the Department of Public Instruction. We hold 693 declarations for exemption by married women teachers for the years 1932–35

A wallpaper being prepared for digitisation, Museums Discovery Centre
Latest News

Wallpaper in the spotlight

Work has begun on documenting this valuable collection to ensure each design is preserved against the effects of time for future generations to enjoy

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

'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

Onlookers stand behind barriers watching the streets being cleaned with fire hoses. Policemen stand on the road in front of the crowds

Purging Pestilence – Plague!

The Bubonic Plague hit Sydney in January 1900. Spreading from the waterfront, the rats carried the plague throughout the city. Within eight months 303 cases were reported and 103 people were dead

Collections conservation

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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

A women holds a large book open while she threads the pages together.

Conserving the archive

Supervising conservator Dominique Moussou talks through her work and some of the projects underway in the MHNSW conservation lab

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