Museums and collections

The University’s museums and collections contain nationally and internationally significant cultural materials, illuminating our past and providing context for current issues and ideas.

Spanning the breadth of rare books, art, rare maps, botanical, anatomical and archival materials, the University’s rich collections offer myriad opportunities for research by the University’s students, staff and the general public.

The University is home to some of the oldest and most extensive collections in Australia. The Harry Brookes Allen Museum of Anatomy and Pathology holds one of Australia's largest collections of human tissue specimens and anatomical models, offering an insight into the human body and how it works.

The University of Melbourne art collection is the largest University art collection in Australia compromised of around 18,000 works including significant collections of Australian colonial and contemporary art and including major holdings of paintings, prints and drawings, ceramics, and sculpture. The University of Melbourne’s art and cultural collections include significant Indigenous Australian materials of art and culture. More than 90 communities of origin are thought to be represented in our Indigenous Collection. Their unique cultural richness continues to be valued by communities of origin who play a vital role in keeping these collections fresh.

The Herbarium holds around 150,000 specimens of plants, fungi and algae, and even artworks. This collection provides records of plant distributions over time, informing and deepening our knowledge of climate change, habitat loss, biodiversity and biosecurity.

The University’s Rare Book collection contains over 250,000 items spanning the 14th and 21st centuries. It comprises historic and unique volumes, journals, ephemera and realia (three-dimensional objects from real life).  Highlights include a nationally significant collection of early Middle Eastern manuscripts, a world-class holding of literary editions by Sir Walter Scott, and the fine printings of notable private presses such as Kelmscott and Ashendene.

These resources are available to support research, learning and teaching goals. You can engage with the University’s museums and collections through object-based learning, research, internships, fellowships, volunteering or through a number of collaborative initiatives with internal and external partners.

Many museums and galleries are open to the public and are welcoming spaces to connect, share and learn on campus.