Skip to main content
University_

Search help

How to search our collections database
Collections data for the Macleay Collections, Nicholson Collection and University Art Collection.

To search for a specific phrase, put the search term in quotation marks. For example "Two Bridges Gundagai".

Use an asterisk (*) following a term to retrieve results including words beginning with, ending with, or containing the word entered. For example, searching for "contain*" will find contain, contains, container, containing, etc.

Note. This search may take longer than other searches.

Search for singular terms rather than plural terms (eg, bark painting rather than bark paintings).

If a search has multiple results, in "List" and "Lightbox" views you can scroll down the page. 

In "Details" view you can move between records by clicking on the arrow at the top of the record. A clickable scroll bar will appear if you hover the cursor over either side of the record.

In a "Detailed Story Record", "Detailed Exhibition Record", or "Detailed Party Record" views you can click on links to "Associated Objects", "Associated People", "Associated Stories", and "Associated Exhibitions".

Note: If there are multiple associated items, when you click on one item you are taken to the "Detailed" view. To view the other associated items you will need to navigate back using the browser back arrow, and click on the next item.

The "Keyword Search" is used to search broadly across all parts of the Collection Search, including objects, stories, exhibitions and people.

The "Browse" search provides links that perform searches on specific terms.

The "Basic Search" is used to search broadly across the database and searches in multiple fields. This includes, but is not limited to, descriptive text, titles, maker’s and collector’s names, and museum reference numbers (see the section below on museum numbers for an explanation of different formats).

To search for words and terms within a specific field (eg, a collector’s name, materials, or museum number) use the "Advanced Search".

To begin your basic search, just type a term into the main search box and click "Search". You can limit your search to one of the Sydney University Museums by selecting "Nicholson Museum", "Macleay Museum" or "University Art". Select "Any" to search across all collections.

You are also able to limit your search to only those records with images, natural history items, or non-natural history items, and/or only those records for objects that are currently on display by checking the relevant box.

The"Advanced Search" allows you to target your search to specific fields and will produce more focused results.

Collection

The database contains data for the four Sydney University Museums collections (Macleay, Nicholson, Art, and General). Select "Any" to search across all collections.

Use the drop down menu for options.

Sub-collection

Each of the collections has sub-collections that reflect different disciplines or interest areas. In some instances there are sub-collections that relate to multiple collections. For example there are numismatics items in three collections.

Use the drop down menu for options.

Collection area

Each object in the collections is grouped by associated geographical area, historical time period, or cultural grouping. In some instances there are collection areas that relate to multiple collections. For example there are Australian Indigenous - Aboriginal And Torres Strait Islander in the Macleay Collections and University Art Collection.

Use the drop down menu for options.

Object category

Each object in the collections is classified by a high level category using a controlled language thesaurus.

Use the drop down menu for options.

Object sub-category

Each object in the collections is classified in a hierarchy related to its "Object Category" using a controlled language thesaurus.

Use the drop down menu for options.

Artist / maker / collector / group

This box searches the name of artists, makers, manufacturers, collectors or cultural groups. You can enter full or partial names. For example if you search for "Grace" your results will be artworks by Grace Hartigan and Grace Cossington Smith. If you search for "Grace Cossington Smith" your results will be only works by Grace Cossington Smith.

Object name / title / specimen

This box searches the name or title given to the objects by the cataloger, artist, maker, or scientific classification.

For the large majority of objects in the collections the name is given by the cataloger using standardised language. For example: "Leaching basket"; or "Bronze mirror"

Artwork names are either given by the artist/maker - for example "Moss Vale Window", or "Untitled", or if the work is unnamed then a brief description in square brackets has been assigned as a title by the cataloguer, for example "[Painting of seated woman]", or "[Human and animal figures]".

Photograph captions are written with single quotation marks. For example: ‘Two Bridges Gundagai’.

Note: Do not use single quotation marks when searching.

Natural history specimens are named using scientific naming conventions, for example: "Pharomachrus mocinno de la Llave, 1832", and sometimes the common name, for example: "Resplendent Quetzal".

Taxon (for natural history)

This box searches the higher level taxonomic classification for Natural History specimens, such as family name.

Place

This box searches geographical locations where objects were made, collected, excavated, or have an association with. Terms used can be broad such as a country, or state. They may also be very specific such as a city, or suburb.

All Australian place names will include the state or territory, abbreviated to NSW, NT, VIC, QLD, SA, WA, ACT, or TAS. Non-Australian locations will include the full name of the country, for exampleUnited States of America, or Fiji.

Please note that a geographical thesaurus is difficult to construct since it has to cover places over time, many which no longer exist, or which have changed their names or boundaries. Many archaic place names are also included.

Media and material

These boxes search the materials from which an object is made. 

Media contains broad terms and uses controlled language. Use the drop down menu for options. 

Material contains more specific terms and is a free text field

Acquisition credit line

The credit line records how an object was acquired by the Sydney University Museums, such as donated, purchased or transferred. It also records from whom the object was acquired and when.

Museum number

Each object in the collections has a unique number that is used to identify it. This number is called the registration number and is given to an object when it is first catalogued into a collection. The registration number follows a specific format (see museum numbers for an explanation of different formats).

The museum number box also searches other numbers that may be associated with an object such as previous registration numbers if the object has been transferred between collections, or collector’s numbers that are written or marked on the object.

Note. Publication numbers (catalogue numbers) are related to bibliographic information are not recorded in this field.

The "Stories" search allows you to search for in-depth information about objects, artworks and natural history specimens. This includes results from research by museum staff and external researcher as well as sections from exhibitions.

The "Exhibitions" search allows you to search for information about exhibitions that featured objects, artworks or natural history specimens from the collections of Sydney University Museums. This includes exhibitions at the University of Sydney (internal) or at another institution (external). 

Use the drop down menu to select options.

The "People" search allows you to search for information about people associated with objects, artworks or natural history specimens from the collections of Sydney University Museums.

Images on objects, artworks or natural history are provided for research purposes only. If you want to publish any images please contact Sydney University Museums, or the relevant copyright holder.

To view copyright and reproduction rights, left-click on the image. The caption below the image will provide the registration number reference and a statement about rights.

You can save a low resolution version of images from "Detailed Object View", "Detailed Story View", "Detailed Exhibition Record", "Detailed Party View" by right-clicking on the image and selecting "Save Image As".

You can save the results of your searches using the "My Collection" function. The "My Collection" area is located below the "Search" box. 

Using My Collection

The default name for saved results is "My Collection". To use your own name (eg, "Red Vases") for saved results, type the name into the text box.

You can have multiple "My Collection" names. To add another name click the "+" symbol (you can type over "My Collection" with a new name)

To remove a name click the "–" symbol.

To navigate between the names click the < and > symbols.

To retrieve your saved collection, navigate to the name and click the "…" symbol and then click on "Restore".

When you are searching you can save "Object", "People", "Stories" or "Exhibition" records by checking the box in the top right corner.

Sydney University Museum numbers are made up of three or four parts:

Part 1: Collection
Part 2: Sub-collection, or accession year
Part 3: Running number 
Part 4: There is sometimes a fourth part (either number or letter) denoting an object part

Each number starts with a two letter prefix that relates to a specific collection. The second, third and fourth elements of the number are separated by a full stop. Note: There are no spaces in our museum numbers.

Part 1 Part 2 Example
Collection Code Year Format  
Macleay Collections – Ethnology ET Until 1979 One letter code (see below) ETC.340
    1980 to 1999 Two digit year ET83.1
    2000 to present Four digit year ET2004.1
Macleay Collections –Entomology EN

2012 to present

Four digit year

EN2012.403
Macleay Collections – Historic photography HP 1972 to 1999 Two digit year HP87.3
    2000 to present Four digit year P2001.2
Macleay Collections – Natural history NH Present Letter code (see below) NHB.123
Macleay Collections – Scientific instruments and apparatus SC 1972 to present Four digit year SC1977.158
Nicholson Collection NM 1870 Letter ‘R’ for Reeve catalogue reference NMR.123
    1898 to 1997 Two digit year NM62.2
    1998 to present Four digit year NM2009.3
University Art Collection UA 1865 to present Four digit year UA1983.1
J W Power Collection PW 1961 to present Four digit year PW1961.1
University general XC 2007 to present Four digit year XC2008.2
Macleay – ethnology letter codes
A Apparel
B Bags
C Ceremonial
D Domestic
F

Stone and shell implements, fans, fire making equipment

H Hunting
I Idols and carvings
M Musical instruments
N Nautical
P Paintings
T Torch
Macleay – natural history letter codes
A Fossils
B Birds
C Crustaceans
E Echinoderms
G General (mixed phyla)
M Mammals
MO Mollusc
P Plant (also includes fungi)
R Reptiles (also includes amphibians)
S Sponges and corals, marine invertebrates
W Worms