About Our Collections

Introduction to the Collections of The Sovereign Hill Museums Association

The Gold Museum manages the collections of The Sovereign Hill Museums Association and serves as the regional museum for the Ballarat and central goldfields area.  The Association holds some 100,000 items located at both Sovereign Hill Outdoor Museum and in the Gold Museum.

Collections in the Outdoor Museum are focused on the gold mining and social history of Ballarat, with key collections in mining technology and the working and domestic lives of the people of Ballarat.

The collections housed in the Gold Museum cover areas well beyond mining history and researchers are encouraged to explore the range of collection areas held.  Details of the special collections housed in the Museum are given below.

Research at the Gold Museum

The Gold Museum houses a diverse range of historical collections including objects, archival records and photographs.  Researchers can search a proportion of the collection online and can make an appointment to gain access to the full collections.

Internet Searches of the Museum Collections

The Gold Museum website includes around 60,000 records from the museum’s collections of 100,000 objects and incorporates accessions up to 2010.  The museum has only recently transferred its collection data to Vernon Systems and we are aware that much work is needed to update and add further detail to many of the records.  The majority of our records do not yet include digital images of the objects, but around 4,000 items do have images associated with the records.  The Museum has an active program to increase the number of items which have been entered on the system and photographed.  Further updates of this website are planned during 2013 to extend the number of records and images.

The Collections

MenorahJessica and Paul Simon Gold Collection
The majority of the collection of 900 gold coins, nuggets and gold samples is on display, with a greater proportion to be displayed from 2012.  The Simon collection also includes material relating to the Simon’s lives in Ballarat.


2005.0905 (crop5)Ballarat Historical Society Collection
This collection includes around 20,000 photographs, 5,000 miscellaneous books and documents, and 2,000 artefacts associated with Ballarat history.



05.1180 Gold License (1854) (crop)Social History Collection
A diverse collection of material relating to Ballarat’s history which includes some business records, a small collection of personal papers and material associated with Ballarat events and organisations such as the Ballarat Industrial Exhibitions, the Avenue of Honour and the Ballarat Orphanage.



Special Collections

84.1388 (detail 1) cropArnott-Rogers Collection
A collection of Chinese decorative arts and textiles collected in China around 1900.  George and Robina Arnott-Rogers who were missionaries in China formed the collection.  It includes rare blue and white embroideries from Sichuan and an extensive range of photographs of China and the work of missionaries from the 1890s through to 1916.

99.0012 1 Title page (crop)Art Collection
Artworks dating from, or relating to, the gold rush period form the core of the collection.  Illustrative material concerning Ballarat is also collected.


Beggs Papers extractBeggs Family Papers
Large collection of documents relating the property “Eurambeen” which was occupied by the Beggs family from the mid 1800s through to the 1930s.


bus adBusiness and Community Archives
Includes archives relating to John Valves, Walter Davis, Ballarat Region Girl Guides, Ballarat Apex Club, Ballarat National Theatre and The Sovereign Hill Museums Association.


91.0004 Eliza Perrin Dress (GM Collection) cropCostume Collection
Large collection of domestic, industrial, military and ceremonial clothing and accessories, primarily focussed on Australian costume.  Dates from 1790s to 2000s.


78.0973 Robert Rede Notice (crop) (small)Eureka Collection
Documents and artefacts associated with the lead-up to the rebellion and its aftermath.  Part of this collection is on continuing display at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka (M.A.D.E.).


83.13470 (crop)Fitzgerald Postcard Collection
There are over 30,000 postcards in the collection.  Special features of the collection are World War One, Australian cards, postal history and the history of international tourism.


Gowan Collection extract 2Gowan Collection
A broad ranging collection of educational textbooks from nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Pern 1sqPern Collection
Indigenous artefacts from Australia, Torres Strait Islands and the Pacific collected by Dr Sidney Pern in the nineteenth century and donated to the City of Ballarat in 1940. The collection is closed and it is the policy of the Museum to return Aboriginal or Islander material to the original owners of material if such can be identified.

Furniture CollectionPioneer Chair Collection
Selection of pioneer furniture and other items, focussed on some thirty chairs made by hand from wood or metal during the early stages of pastoralism in Australia.


History of BallaratRare Book Collection
Goldfields history forms the heart of this collection of nineteenth century publications concerning the gold rush, gold mining technology and social life of the period.


90.0510 (2) (crop)Sir Henry Bolte Collection
A collection of 450 items presented to Sir Henry Bolte during his seventeen-year term as Premier of Victoria.


Gold Pan 2Sovereign Hill Archives
Extensive collection of photographs and documents associated with the history of Sovereign Hill, which opened to the public in November 1970.


Feedback on this Site

The Gold Museum welcomes any feedback that you have on records that you find which may need correction or improvement to the data.  Please contact the museum via email if you have any comments or contributions to make.  We are aware that there are gaps in the records that have been provided for access on the website.  The Museum is working to complete data entry for all acquisitions made from its launch in 1970.  Your understanding and patience with our process of completing and uploading records is much appreciated.


The Gold Museum collections can be accessed by prior arrangement with the Manager/Senior Curator.  The collections are stored across a number of locations and notice is required to retrieve items from those storage areas.  The collections are only accessible between 10.00am and 4.30pm on weekdays.  Access on weekends is not possible.  Contact the Museum for further information or to make an appointment.

Research Inquiries and Appointments

It is helpful if initial inquiries are made in writing, either through email or by letter, however telephone inquiries or appointments can be made by contacting the museum on (03) 5337 1107 and asking for the Manager/Senior Curator or Curator.

Written inquiries can be directed to:
goldmuseum at sovereignhill com au

Manager/Senior Curator
Gold Museum
Sovereign Hill Post Office
Ballarat   Victoria 3350