Wooden parrying shield from Wiradjuri Country, circa 1870

Macleay Collections

The oldest natural history collection in Australia
An invaluable collection of historical, cultural, scientific and photographic artefacts and information.

We hold the oldest natural history collection in Australia, originating in the cabinets of Alexander Macleay, and expanding through the collecting networks of the Macleay family from Charles Darwin to Sir Stamford Raffles, and Cuba to Wagga Wagga.

We care for the historically rich collections of Aboriginal, Torres Strait and Pacific Islanders' cultural material, including objects collected on the early scientific expedition, the Chevert, and those collected in the early years of anthropology at the University of Sydney. The collection continues to hold relevance to peoples across our region.

The work of University of Sydney scientists is reflected in the collection of scientific instruments and apparatus used in research and teaching, and is part of the story of scientific practice in Australia.

The Historic Photograph Collection records life in Australia and the Pacific region, from the late 1840s to the 1960s, as captured by both commercial and amateur photographers. It includes a wide range of photographic formats, reflecting the changing technology of photography.

In addition, the Macleay Collections hold a wealth of material reflecting the museum's history, including a significant library, furniture, documents and ephemera relating to the major collectors.

Featured image (top of the page): parrying shield from Wiradjuri Country, c.1870