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Collecting is Fun

Why do people and museums collect?

Four little girls looking at a wooden bowl with a burnt-in design
Photo: George Serras National Museum of Australia

I love collecting sea shells from my holidays by the beach. They help me to remember the smells and sounds of the beach, as well as the fun we had there as a family.

In Collecting is Fun students investigate how collections can help us remember the past, through object handing and gallery exploration.

Program details

Year levelsP–1
Group size30 students (note that two groups can run concurrently)
Duration90 minutes (2017)
1 hour (2018)
Cost$7 per student (2017)
$5 per student (2018)
AvailabilityTuesday–Friday at 10am and 1pm
Alternative times may be available for local schools. Please contact for further information.
Curriculum linksAustralian History curriculum links to our programs (225kb PDF)


  • Give students an opportunity to explore the collections of the National Museum of Australia.
  • Invite students to consider the idea of collections and the link between collecting and remembering.
  • Talk about museum objects and storytelling – understand how objects help us remember stories from the past and tell stories of the present.


  1. Introductory activity – students are introduced to the idea of collecting to preserve memories. After reading Wilfrid Gordon MacDonald Partridge by Mem Fox, students handle a range of different objects from our education collection to help them remember their past.
  2. Gallery activity – working in groups, students explore the Museum's collections with the aid of a gallery Discovery Trail.
  3. Reflection and follow-up activity – students share with the class the objects and collections they found most interesting in the Museum and try to discern a mystery collection.

Exploring the Museum

For everything you need to know about visiting, see Plan and book a visit.

Related resources

You may also be interested in the following online interactives:

  • The Cobb & Co coach – discover how people travelled before cars and buses
  • The Enterprise – explore the work of paddle steamers on the Murray and Darling rivers in the 1890s

You can also see the full list of resources related to historical skills.