Answers to frequently asked questions about the Museum's collection and the donations process.
What type of objects do you collect?
The Museum collects objects that are linked to key moments, people and places in Australia’s history, based on our three themes. We have a Collections development policy and consider whether an object:
- relates to themes, issues or people of national significance
- assists in understanding and interpreting Australian history and culture.
Significant acquisitions are listed in our annual reports.
We also take into account whether the object is:
- a particularly good example of its type or not well-represented in other museum collections
- in a suitable condition for long-term storage or display
- well provenanced, with good information about its history and owners.
How do I donate an object or collection?
See Make a donation for information about the donation process and our criteria for accepting offers.
Can I send or bring my object in?
No. Please do not send or bring objects to the Museum. We have a rigorous process to assess material before it is accepted into the collection. There are also quarantine protocols that restrict material coming into our storage facilities.
One of our curators will contact you if we are considering an offer and need to see an object. If you are interested in making a collection offer, please complete and submit the Collection offer form.
Will you take my collection on loan?
No. The Museum does not accept material on permanent or long-term loan. Short-term loans are only sought from private and institutional lenders to meet specific exhibition needs.
Will you buy my collection?
Can you value or authenticate my collection?
No. The Museum does not provide valuations or authentication of objects or collections.
Depending on the type of object for which you are seeking advice, you could check online auction sites or contact a registered dealer, auction house or an independent valuer. The Ministry for the Arts maintains a list of approved valuers under the Cultural Gifts Program. Another source is the Auctioneers and Valuers Association of Australia.
How can I care for my collection?
Check out our Caring for your collection videos on the Museum's YouTube channel. We don't provide advice on the care of specific objects.
Why isn’t everything on show?
The value of the Museum’s collection lies in its contribution to the history, research and understanding of Australia and its peoples. As with all collecting institutions, we do not have the capacity to display everything at once. Objects are selected for display depending on their individual provenance and history, and relevance to exhibition and gallery themes.
Some objects are fragile or sensitive to light, and can only be displayed for short periods, but still contribute significantly to the Museum’s research, and enable us to respond to inquiries from scholars and the public. See our Collection Explorer for an increasing number of collection records available online.