The Quadrangle

The Nicholson Museum - its current location

The University of Sydney's Nicholson Museum houses the largest collection of ancient artefacts in Australia.

Established in 1860 when Sir Charles Nicholson presented his valuable collection of antiquities to the University, it has been expanded over the years through fund-raising, bequests, acquisitions and excavations, resulting in collections of artifacts from Greece, Italy, Cyprus, Egypt, the Near and Middle East.

By 1900 however the Museum's two anterooms were so full of cases it was almost impossible to see the exhibits, and in 1926 the Museum - now located below the original Fisher Library (now MacLaurin Hall) - was formally opened.

Click on images for enlargement.

The Nicholson Museum today

The Nicholson Museum entrance today, photo, Nicholson Museum.



— The Fisher Library building, 1910

By 1900 the Museum's two anterooms were so full of cases it was almost impossible to see the exhibits. Similarly, the Library had outgrown the space allotted to it and the collection was distributed in rooms all over the Main Building.

The south-west corner of the Quadrangle Building was accordingly built between 1900 and 1909, providing accommodation for the Fisher Library reading room (now MacLaurin Hall) on level 1, a refectory, a bookstack, and the Nicholson Museum on the ground floor. The Museum was to be divided into three compartments for Egyptian, Greek and Roman antiquities.

However, while Fisher Library and the Nicholson Museum were officially opened on 20 September 1909, the collection of antiquities remained in the Museum's original premises in the Main Building until 1926.

— Nicholson Vestibule and Gateway, 1913-1918:

The Nicholson Vestibule and Gateway were constructed between 1913 and 1918, providing a proper entrance to the Museum.

— The formal opening of the Nicholson Museum, 1926

The Nicholson Museum in the Fisher Library building, with its antiquities collection in place, was formally opened by the Governor-General Lord Stonehaven on 5 October 1926, following the University's Commemoration ceremony.

— Renovation of the Museum, 1960s:

In the 1960s, the Museum was renovated and reopened to the public in 1966, with its present layout.

— The Nicholson Museum today:

The Egyptian Room

The Museum's Egyptian Room, photo, Museums newsletter February 2004 - enlargement.



2010 marked the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Nicholson Museum to the public and the birth of Sydney University Museums.

150th anniversary banners

One of the 150th anniversary banners at the University, photo, University Secretariat - enlargement.