Collections and Acquisitions

A treasure trove for WA

The Western Australian Museum has over 8 million objects and artefacts in its collections. Collection artefacts range from shipwreck sites to insect specimens, and from pre-solar system aged diamonds to children’s toys from the 19th century.

The WA Museum’s Collections and Research Centre is heavily involved in research projects investigating the rich biodiversity and geodiversity of Western Australia. 

The Collections and Research Centre houses the Terrestrial Zoology, Aquatic Zoology, Earth and Planetary Sciences, History, and Anthropology and Archaeology department staff and collections, as well as some of the collection items from the Maritime Archaeology and Maritime History departments. Staff from Maritime Archaeology and Maritime History are located at WA Shipwrecks Museum.

Biggest ever Foundation grant goes towards acquisition of Red Rock Art Collection and Archive

In October 2023, the Foundation announced the launch of a large-scale grant program for the benefit of the WA Museum and its first major annual grant to the Museum for a key acquisition. The grant funding was allocated to the acquisition of the majority of the Red Rock Art Collection and Archive 

The Red Rock Art Collection and Archive has immense cultural and spiritual significance, and is of major historical and artistic importance. 

The acquisition includes canvas paintings, painted wooden boards, limited edition prints, artefacts, cultural objects, dance boards, hats worn by a number of the artists; as well as archival items like video recordings, still photographs and negatives.

Notable artists featured in the collection include Rover Thomas, Queenie McKenzie, Jack Britten, Peggy Griffiths, Paddy Carlton, Sonia Kurarra, Jock Mosquito, Freddie Timms, Eubena Nampitjin and Billy Thomas.

"'What are those people in Welshpool doing?’ I am regularly asked. ’Saving the World’, I reply, and I mean it. In a state with an area exceeding 2.5 million square kilometres, with significant climate issues of its own, and massive resources and agricultural industries, it is essential that we understand our environment.

We need to know which species are there, where they are, and how they fit into the web of life. We need to know if they are, on the one hand, under threat; or, on the other, whether or not they may become a pest species.  If they are threatened, how do we conserve them; if they are pests, how do we control them?"

Alec Coles OBE, CEO, Western Australian Museum

Sea Abrolhos Project

This project aimed to share digital assets obtained
on a recent expedition undertaken by Dr Zoe Richards to the Houtman Abrolhos Islands.

The expedition collected coral biodiversity and community structure data, undertook a tow net eDNA study of benthic and fish biodiversity, collected coral and marine invertebrate specimens to incorporate into the State’s Aquatic Zoology collection, and collected digital assets (underwater video, underwater photos, drone footage) for use in science communication.

The Sea Abrolhos Project shared the expedition discoveries with the wider community, built important relationships for the WA Museum science programs into the future and obtained new genetic information to improve our understanding of the collection.

Nothing but Memories

The Nothing but Memories project is one of the first
attempts by the Museum’s History Department to
undertake a large contemporary collecting project
related to a traumatic event, where the nature of the
events means objects may be difficult to collect, and the stories and intangible elements of the experience are the most important to document and record.

The project is part of a larger targeted collecting strategy that looks at natural disasters in Western Australia between 2006 to 2021. This project involved an inter-disciplinary approach that includes other departments and organisations with expertise in science, anthropology and climate change.

Examining environmental destruction, including increasing occurrences of more severe natural disasters and how they affect individuals and communities, were a key focus of the project.