The history of the museum begins with the South Australian Literary Association in 1834, whose goal was to class up the rough and tumble colony of Australia with some arts and literature. The museum opened in 1861, along with a library, and over the next 150 years has amassed one of the best natural history and anthropology collections in Australia.The museum has over 3000 aboriginal items on display, considered the largest and best collection in the world. 

The South Australian Museum has been committed to making Australia’s natural and cultural heritage accessible, engaging and fun for over 150 years. It is a place where families can learn and grow together. Today the Museum is one of the most visited museums in Australia and holds collections of national and international significance. It is a leader in remote and regional community engagement, and in Australian Aboriginal heritage and scientific research.

The museum contains a ton of collections, ranging from biological sciences, humanities, mineral sciences and palaeontology.

The museum biological sciences’ collections encompass a diverse range of fauna, from parasites to whales. Over three million animal specimens have been collected in the last 150 years through systematic surveys and collecting trips, donations and acquisitions.


The South Australian Museum is responsible for the largest and most comprehensive collection of Australian Aboriginal cultural material in the world. We are committed to a process of making these items accessible to Aboriginal communities across Australia, and also have a charter to interpret the collections to a broader Australian and international public, in partnership with Aboriginal people.

This collection houses over 32,000 minerals, rocks, meteorites and tektites from all over the world.


The South Australian Museum is responsible for around 50,000 registered fossil specimens. Strengths of the collection include fossils of the Ediacaran biota, South Australian Cambrian invertebrates, Late Triassic plant fossils, Early Cretaceous Marine vertebrates and invertebrates including opalised fossils, Tertiary invertebrates and Tertiary and Pleistocene vertebrates.

According to atlasobscura &