Research is a core activity at the Museum to understand and interpret our diverse collections.

The South Australian Museum cares for Collections of national and international importance and significance.  These represent treasures collected over more than 150 years and include assets from:

  • the natural world embracing invertebrates, vertebrates and their tissues collected from South Australia, Australia and globally from arid terrestrial environments to the depths of the oceans;
  • Australian and international archaeology and anthropology to world cultures and social history;
  • minerals and rocks on Earth to meteorites from space;
  • a diversity of fossils, some representing the oldest known examples of animals on Earth;
  • historical events, whether documents or objects, that contribute specialised data to support the Museum’s interpretation of, and research on, its Collections.

Most visitors to the Museum’s Galleries and Exhibitions on North Terrace, in the heart of Adelaide’s cultural precinct, will be totally unaware of the dedicated team of Collection Managers, Scientists and Technical Assistants and unpaid Honorary Research Associates and Volunteers who are actively caring for, conducting research on and publishing their discoveries in peer-reviewed national and international journals, book chapters and scholarly books.  Our research activities not only benefit, inform and inspire the Galleries and many of the Exhibitions on display at the Museum, but have an impact that reaches far beyond the buildings we occupy in Adelaide.  Our collections and research staff have strong links and collaborations with colleagues and students at institutions elsewhere in Adelaide, in Australia and overseas, thereby extending our reach internationally.

The academic research status of the South Australian Museum is unmatched among museums nationally as determined by the number and combined value of external, competitive research grants, the majority of which are secured from the Australian Research Council, and the number of peer-reviewed publications.  Each financial year, the Museum produces an Annual Report which provides concise highlights of our research activities in the different discipline areas.  Our Annual Reports also include a comprehensive list of publications, teaching, workshops and other research endeavours by our staff.

Media Releases in the form of 'UNLOCKED: Stories from our Scientists' and TV Reports feature and publicise the latest discoveries and activities of our scientists.