The Nicholson Museum holds the largest and one of the most significant collections of Cypriot antiquities in Australia. This collection spans the Neolithic to Roman and Medieval periods and includes a range of artefact types from artistic ceramic vessels to intriguing sculptural works, glasswork and bronzes.
Beginning in 1860 with a single artefact from the original donation by Sir Charles Nicholson, the collection grew exponentially, especially under the curatorial direction of firstly William Woodhouse (honorary curator 1903-1938) and then James Stewart (honorary curator 1954-1962). Many of the artefacts within the collection were sourced directly from Stewart’s own excavations conducted at Bellapais Vounous, Karmi Palealona, Karmi Lapasta, Nicosia Ayia Paraskevi and Vasilia Kafkallia as well as from the excavations of at the sites of Myrtou Stephania and Myrtou Sphagion, conducted by Stewart’s former student Basil Hennessy who later became Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology at the University of Sydney. As a result of these acquisitions, the Museum holds many complete tomb groups of archaeological importance. This collection continues to grow through generous donations and benefactions from private individuals.
Highlights of the Cypriot collection are now on display in the exhibition Aphrodite's Island: Australian Archaeologists in Cyprus