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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, about 40 per cent of which has been digitised. Where possible, object information is included to give context.

Not all our collection records are available to the public but new records are released every week and we are constantly enriching the quality of existing records.

How does search work?

Search is a quick way to browse our collection across all information on object record pages. Enter one or two terms in the search box to start exploring. Search is not case sensitive.

Sorting your results

The homepage is a random selection by default. Change the type of sort using the drop down menu at the top of the search results:

  • Random: from across the collection, with higher quality images taking priority
  • Date updated: by date the record was added to the database or updated, with the latest at the top
  • Relevance: by the relevance of the object to the search term entered or selected from the automatically generated list
  • What: by object type, in alphabetical order
  • When: by date of creation, discovery or associated event, in alphabetical order
  • Where: by locations related to the object, in alphabetical order
  • Who: sort by people or parties involved or associated with an object, in alphabetical order

Viewing your results

View search results as thumbnails by default or change to view a list or visual map using the icons at the top right of the search results:

  • Thumbnail: small image of the object with object title and description if available, on hover
  • List: smaller thumbnail image, object title and associated collection
  • Map: shows associated place or places for each of the objects you are currently viewing. Zoom in by clicking on the numeric cluster or red pin to see associated objects

Refining your search with filters

Refine your search using filters in the side menu. Click on the What, Where, Who and When panels and scroll down to make selections from the list of auto-generated filters for each, for example:

  •  What: type of object, 'coat of arms', ‘painting’
  •  Where: places associated with the object, ‘Northern Territory’, ‘Melbourne’
  •  Who: name of a person or organisation involved with the object, ‘John McKee’, ‘Parliament of Australia’
  •  When: years associated with the object,‘1849’ or '2008'

Clearing search terms or filters

The search terms and filters currently applied are shown above the search results, beside the ‘Exploring’ text.

  • To remove one of the search terms – click on the ‘x’ to the right of the term.
  • To remove all of search terms and start a new search – click on ‘Clear search’.

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

Try using:

  • Fewer words
  • a synonym or related word, 'vehicles' instead of 'cars'
  • filter links found on objects to browse by similarity, for example by material or a person’s name.

What’s new

Shows new 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. Use the search box at the top of the Collections page to search collection names and descriptions. You can search for a particular collection (if you know its name) or enter a keyword to find collections of interest.


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

Image requests

A low resolution version of some images on Collection Explorer can be downloaded and used under a Creative Commons license or because the images are in the public domain. Others are restricted or undetermined, which means you need to contact us before use.

You can also purchase a higher resolution image, seek commercial use of an image or request new photography.

To download or request an image, you first need to find the image you wish to use, then click on the ‘Reuse image’ button. This will present the available options depending on the known copyright status of the image.

  • Download: Allows you to download the image and use it straight away under the terms of the specified licence.
  • Purchase: Takes you to the image order form for that image.
  • Request image: Takes you to the image order form for that image.
  • Request photo: Takes you to the image order form for that image.

I want to report an error or submit feedback

The Museum welcomes feedback on the information it its collections. Use Feedback for comments on any aspect of Collections Explorer.