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The National Museum of Australia and the Australian Antarctic Division are partnering to secure the future of important objects that help to tell the story of Australia’s history in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean.

Australia and Antarctica

Australia has a long connection with the Antarctic region, starting with the activities of sealers and whalers in the 18th century. Expeditions led by Sir Douglas Mawson in the early 20th century expanded understandings of Antarctica and laid the foundation for Australia’s enduring presence in the region.

Since the 1940s Australian researchers have undertaken significant exploratory and scientific work to understand and protect the Antarctic landscapes.

The Australian Antarctic Division manages Australia’s interests in the Antarctic region. It oversees world-leading research at three permanent stations – Mawson, Casey and Davis – and at subantarctic Macquarie Island.

Over time, the Australian Antarctic Division and its predecessors developed a large collection of heritage objects. The collection includes scientific and communication equipment, taxidermied huskies, field support vehicles, clothing and field work supplies. Much of this material has national significance, recording the story of Australia’s interests, research and engagement in the region.

Safeguarding the Antarctic collection

Recognising this important history, the Australian Antarctic Division and the National Museum of Australia are working together to safeguard this material into the future.

The National Antarctic Heritage Collection project, starting in 2023, involves researching and assessing the Antarctic heritage objects and transferring their care to the Museum. These objects will join the Museum’s existing Antarctic holdings to form the National Antarctic Heritage Collection as a part of the National Historical Collection.

Contact us

The Museum recognises the importance of the Antarctic heritage material, including its special significance to the people who have undertaken and supported Australia’s Antarctic research programs and operations.

For more information please email


In our collection

Icepick used on 1911-1913 Australian Antarctic ExpeditionUsed by George Harris Sarjeant Dovers (1887-1971) Australian Antarctic Expedition 1911-1913

Banner image (detail): Leslie Whetter and John Close during a blizzard on Cape Denison on Antarctica’s Commonwealth Bay in 1912. Photo: Frank Hurley. Australian Antarctic Division

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