How big are the Australian Museum collections?

After collecting for more than 175 years, the Australian Museum collections are immense. It is estimated that, in total, the Australian Museum collections contain in excess of 18 million objects and specimens in the Natural Science and Cultural Collections.

Natural Science Collections

Arachnology collection - contains more than 635,000 specimens. This includes about 2500 type lots of which about 750 are primary types.

Entomology collection - contains approximately four million specimens, including around 9500 type specimens.

Fossil collection - contains more than 167,000 specimens of fossil invertebrates, vertebrates and plants, most of which are Australian.

Herpetology collection- has more than 170,000 registered specimens of reptiles and amphibians from New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory, Papua New Guinea and the islands of the South Pacific. The collection holds over 3800 type specimens, including 541 primary types.

Ichthyology collection - contains more than 600,000 adult fish specimens and over 1,000,000 larval (baby) fish specimens. The collection includes 10,909 type specimens. The Regional Larval Fish Archive contains over 300,000 larvae from over 8000 collection samples.

Malacology collection - contains more than four million specimens more than 10,000 type lots, including more than 4700 primary types.

Mammalogy collection - contains approximately 47,000 specimens from over 80 different countries. Among the most important specimens in the collection are the more than 400 mammal type specimens.

Marine Invertebrate collection has more than 1.6 million registered specimens, microscope slides, SEM (Scanning Electron Microscope) stubs and photographic images. The collection includes more than 9000 type lots, including more than 2000 primary types

Mineral collection - has more than 76,000 specimens, covering 1290 mineral species. There are about 500 cut gemstones The rock collection contains about 17,400 specimens. The meteorite collection has more than 710 specimens and the tektite collection has approximately 1000 specimens.

Ornithology collection - contains more than 90,000 registered specimens, including study skins, bones, tissues, mounts, detached wings, spirit specimens, nests and over 20,000 registered clutches of eggs. There are more than 340 type specimens in the collection, primarily from Australia and the Pacific Islands.

Cultural Collections

Aboriginal and Torres Stait Islander collection - holds approximately 40,000 ethnographic objects and one million archaeological artefacts representing the cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

Pacific collection - there are approximately 60,000 ethnographic objects from Melanesia, Polynesia and Micronesia in the Pacific Collection.

Asia, Africa and Americas collection -the ethnographic collections from these regions are geographically broad and culturally varied, with approximately 16,000 items representing the material culture of Indigenous peoples throughout the world.


Penny Berents
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