The Australian Store, SA Museum

Some of the collections held in the Australian Store. Our collections are the raw material for much of the research undertaken at the South Australian Museum.

Research Overview

Staff within the Humanities continue to work on a number of research projects, many of which have national and international scope.

With the relocation of the Museum’s archaeology collections to a collections and research facility that has allowed assemblages to be studied, access to these collections for research purposes has increased significantly. Research projects are continuing on archaeological sites at Dempsey’s Lake, Port Augusta; Bales Bay, Kangaroo Island; Koonalda Cave, Nullarbor; Yorke Peninsula; and Roonka. These projects have been externally-funded through the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and Indigenous Heritage Program funding (Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities).

Ongoing research within Australian Aboriginal Cultures includes the Australian Research Council (ARC)-funded Red Ochre project in relation to the historical use of and trade in red ochre, with a particular research sub-project involving an investigation of ethno historical and chemical evidence for the Aboriginal use of red sealing wax as an ochre surrogate during the colonial period. Research also continues on the ARC-funded Reconstructing the Spencer and Gillen Collection project, with colleagues in Melbourne and Canberra. This project has involved documentation of collections in the Manchester Museum, the British Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum. Work on the Muslim Cameleers project continues, adding content and design elements for the Muslim Cameleers website, funded through a grant from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Australian Polar Collections research continues to focus on Douglas Mawson the man, his life based on copies of letters from Iris de Rego to her family in the 1930s. Other areas of research include: sub-Antarctic sealing history, particularly on Macquarie Island until WWI; polar newspapers, including the Adelie Blizzard in 1912–13; restoring the first successful colour photographs taken in the Antarctic; the distribution of Wilkins specimens in natural history museums, as well as artefacts relating to his ventures; Rymill’s polar legacy; and the context of South Australia’s polar monopoly.

World Cultures research on the Upper Sepik-Central New Guinea Project continues. This project is analysing the variables affecting the spatial distribution of technical characteristics of material culture. 

Research on the World War One New Guinea Collections of the Museum of Victoria has resulted in the published catalogue War Trophies or Curios?  now available in the Museum Bookshop. Research has commenced on equivalent WW1 collections in the South Australian Museum and a small exhibition, Tinker Tailor Soldier Sailor is now available for viewing in the east end of the Pacific Cultures Gallery.

Images of over 6500 objects from Africa, presently held in collaborating museums in Australia and New Zealand, have been digitised and are being linked to registration information, in preparation for a grant application to complete the digitisation of these collections and uploading to a website. The application will be made jointly by the South Australian Museum, the University of Adelaide, The Western Australian University and the NSW University of Technology.