Museums of History NSW (MHNSW)

Rebecca Varidel
21st Nov 2022

Today, the newly created Museums of History NSW (MHNSW) was officially launched, marking the state’s newest and first cultural institution with history at its core.

The creation of MHNSW is a significant milestone for the state, recognising the most important historical collection in the country in documenting places and stories that have shaped and continue to influence our social, political and cultural identity.

“The NSW Government is committed to a future where history is alive and conversations about history take a more prominent place in our cultural landscape” Minister for the Arts Ben Franklin said.

“The creation of the Museums of History NSW means that records, archives and images will be better preserved, presented and accessible to the public.”

Combining the NSW State Archives Collection, some 90km of historic material and records with a value exceeding $1billion with 12 historical properties with extensive collections, including the UNESCO World Heritage listed Hyde Park Barracks, MHNSW has immense opportunities to reveal our shared history from multiple perspectives.

MHNSW will inspire enjoyment, curiosity and fascination in our history, emphasizing the role and value of historical legacies in shaping individual identities, as well as those of the state, country and region.

From the pre-1788 Charter of Justice, that established our court system to over 800,000 last Will and Testament files from 19th and 20th centuries, that provide a fascinating window into how people lived or exquisite prints, paintings and artworks depicting our changing landscape, the MHNSW Collection is a treasure trove of discovery.

Fashion, crime, Sydney’s underworld and glimpses of how people of the past went about their daily lives can be viewed in the hundreds of thousands of candid and revealing mugshots from the roaring twenties and street photography from 1930-1950’s.

Experts, enthusiasts and students can explore the history and trends of textiles, design and architectural innovations through Australia’s most extensive collection of trade catalogues, wallpaper, textures and fixtures from the 19th and 20th centuries. Timeless stories of love, longing and passion are told through objects, love letters and photographs, all held within the MHNSW Collection.

The launch of MHNSW marks an opportunity for everyone to explore history beyond what is already known, creating a refreshed outlook on what it truly means to keep historical legacies in front of us and not behind us. In doing so, we acknowledge a journey of learning and unlearning, a process that is integral to the growth and understanding of our state.