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National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive

Collection Explorer



Collection Explorer is the online entry point to search the National Museum’s collection database, some of which has been digitised. Where possible object information is included to give context; for example the type of object it is, the collection it belongs to or where the object was found.

Currently not all Museum collection records are available to the public. However, the Museum releases new records every week and continually enriches the content of existing records.

How does search work?

Search provides a quick and easy method for browsing the Museum's online collections. Search browses across all information you can view on the object detail page. Just enter one or two terms in the search box to start exploring. Note search is not case sensitive.

Sorting your results

By default the homepage is a selection of objects with a random sort from across the Museum's collection, although objects with digitised images are given priority. You can change the sort using the drop down menu at the top of the search results:

  • Random: Random sorting of objects, objects with higher quality images appearing at the top
  • Date updated: Sort by date the object was added to the database or updated
  • Relevance: Sort by the relevance of the object to the search term entered or selected from the autocomplete list
  • What: Sort by object type, first result at the top in alphabetical order
  • When: Sort by date of creation, discovery or associated event, first result at the top in alphabetical order
  • Where: Sort by locations related to the object, first result at the top in alphabetical order
  • Who: Sort by party’s involved or associated with an object, first result at the top in alphabetical order

Viewing your results

You can view the search results as thumbnails, as a list or on a visual map. The default view is thumbnails. 

To change the view — use the icons at the top right of the search results.

  • Thumbnail: Shows a thumbnail image of the object which when hovered, gives the object title and description if available
  • List: Lists the objects including a thumbnail image, object title and associated collection. To change the sorting order, use the Sort drop-down menu at the top right of the search results
  • Map: Displays a map showing the associated place, or places, for each of the objects you are currently viewing. You can zoom into a place, by clicking on the cluster (represented by a number) or pin located at that place. This will then show the objects, or object, associated with that place 

Refining your search with filters

You can refine your search by using the list of search filters in the side menu. At the top of the What, Where, Who and When panels you can use each panel’s search box to quickly find a filter — or just browse the list of filters that appears below.

  •  What: the type of object eg. 'coat of arms', ‘painting’
  •  Where: places associated with the object eg. ‘Northern Territory’, ‘Melbourne’
  •  Who: name of a person or organisation involved with the object eg ‘John Rogers’, ‘Parliament of Australia’
  •  When: all dates associated with the object eg. ‘1849’

Clearing search terms or filters

The search terms and filters currently applied are shown above the search results.

To remove one of the search terms — hover over the particular term and click on the X. 

To remove all of the search terms, and start a new search — click on the ‘Clear search’ link.

I can't find the object I'm looking for

There are a number of ways you can try and locate objects:

  • Use fewer words
  • Try using a synonym or related word, eg 'vehicles' instead of 'cars'
  • Use the filter links found on objects to browse by similarity, eg. by material or a person’s name on an object page.

What’s new

Shows the sets and objects that have recently been added to Collection Explorer.


A collection is an object or group of objects that the Museum acquired from the same source at the same time. It usually has a unifying theme or story.

Collections are displayed in random order, and you can search the collections using the search box on the Collections page. This searches the collection name and description so you can either search for a particular collection (if you know its name), or enter a keyword to find collections of interest to you.


Sets bring together related objects that may not already belong to the same collection. These are curated by the Museum and will be added to over time. 

I want to report an error or submit feedback

The Museum welcomes feedback on the information contained in our collections. Just use the Feedback link in the left hand menu for general feedback on any aspect of Collections Explorer.