Collections

We hold the world's largest collection dedicated to Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and histories.

Our collection is highly significant both as a keeping place for culturally significant objects, and as a resource for anybody looking to improve their knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture.

Limited access service from 12 March to 15 July 2018

AIATSIS is refurbishing its Canberra building, which houses most of its collection. This will include building work in the client access rooms where we provide on-site access to audio-visual materials. As a result of the construction there will be limits to the services we are able to provide from 12 March until 15 June 2018.

The Reading Room will still be open from 11am – 3pm Monday to Friday. An Access Officer will be on duty and we can assist with access to the open stacks which holds our published print collection and also our photographic database which is viewed through computers in the Reading Room.

However, we will not be able to provide on-site access to our unpublished manuscripts, film, video and audio recordings at this time. We apologise for any inconvenience and hope that you can plan a visit to access these materials outside this period. If you have particular needs during this period our Collection Access Unit will happily work with you to access our collection – we encourage you to contact collectionenquiry@aiatsis.gov.au.

Highlights

Art and Artefacts collection including around 600 artworks and 500 artefacts.

Books and printed material amounting to over 175,680 titles, including some 1380 reference texts, 3740 serial titles, and nearly 16,000 books.

Film collection containing more than 4000 video titles and 830 film titles (over 6 million feet of motion picture film).

The Australian Indigenous Languages Collection contains over 4500 titles and has been placed on the UNESCO Australian Memory of the World Register.

A manuscript collection of 11,700 titles with over 4800 rare books and pamphlets, and 1700 rare serial titles.

Pictorial collection of 650,000 photographs relating to Indigenous Australia, dating from the late 1800s to the present day.

Approximately 40,000 hours of sound, almost all of which is unique and unpublished.

search the catalogue

Search our collection

Our collections catalogue is called Mura®, a word from the Ngunnawal language meaning "pathway”. Search this to locate items in our collection.

guides and resources

Collections online

Come on an interactive journey with us through these stunning online collections.

subject languages and place

Thesauri

The Thesauri contains place, language, people and subjects relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies.

using the collection

Using the collection

There are many ways to use the collection, and they don't all involve visiting us in Canberra.

dontate to the collection

Donate

We welcome donations of unpublished materials relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander studies.

biographical index

Search our names index

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index, or ABI, is a personal name index that helps you locate mentions of people in the collection.

Latest Collections news

Dr Luise Hercus

Vale Dr Luise Hercus

Tuesday, 24 April 2018 - 11:45am

Dr Luise Anna Hercus AM FAHA, and longtime member of AIATSIS, passed away in Canberra on Sunday 15 April.

A screenshot of men working from the film Waiting for Harry.

AIAS film-maker to be honoured at film festival

Tuesday, 17 October 2017 - 9:30am

Kim McKenzie, former film-maker with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies (AIAS), will be honoured at the Canberra International Film Festival.

Last reviewed: 13 Mar 2018