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The Gold Museum cares for and displays the extensive collections of the Sovereign Hill Museums Association. With over 150,000 items, the collections are used to tell the stories of Ballarat, the Victorian goldfields, and the extraordinary impact of the 19th century gold rushes to Australia's national heritage. The collection has a number of key collection areas.
With the largest gold nugget weighing 4.4kg, this unique collection includes over 900 gold samples, nuggets and coins.
Local Ballarat History
The collection, including a strong photographic component, comprises social and personal histories, and includes materials related to businesses, factories, workshops, public institutions and societies, sports and recreation and municipal history.
Gold Mining & Eureka
One of Australia’s most significant collections of Gold Licences and Miners Rights, the material interprets the impact of gold and goldmining on the history and development of the Ballarat region. A collection of artefacts, artworks, memorabilia and books relate to the 1854 Eureka Rebellion.
Australian Colonial Furniture
Unique Australian made furniture, much of which dates to the early pastoral period, as well as a collection of primitive, hand-made Australian chairs that include a number of iconic Jimmy Possum chairs.
Chinese Culture & the Chinese in Australia
The Arnott-Rogers Collection is a specialised collection of material collected by Australian missionaries in the Sichuan region of Southwest China in the late 19thcentury. The Ballarat Chinese temple assemblage, is one of the oldest extant temple assemblages in Australia and includes the 1897 Chinese Processional assemblage which includes the oldest known fighting lion and third oldest Imperial Dragon in the world.
Over 80,000 postcards provides an impressive image library and illustrates an international range of themes, places and people.
The art collection features significant people and places, providing a rich source of social history content, especially around life on the goldfield. This collection includes a large collection of early engravings and prints by goldfields artists such as ST Gill and Francois Cogné.
Costume & Textiles
Featuring domestic, ceremonial, industrial and military clothing, there is an emphasis on 19th century Victorian-era costume, and textiles that relate to clothing manufacturing in the Ballarat region.
Historical publications acquired to support research into the history of the goldfields and goldmining.
Sir Henry Bolte
Sir Henry Bolte, Premier of Victoria from 1955 to 1972, was an important supporter in the establishment of Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum. The collection includes a wide range of memorabilia offering an unusual insight into the political life of a very public figure.
The Sovereign Hill Museums Association undertakes a range of research projects that provide new information and perspectives on the objects in the collection and the people who made, used or collected them. This research is actively and rigorously applied to the interpretation in the Outdoor Museum, including buildings, objects and characterisations.
Research might involve historical research, scientific examination, archaeological excavation, exhibition curation, application of intangible heritage research in the construction of replica buildings, costumes or objects, or educational pedagogy.
Policing on the Victorian goldfields
Victoria becomes a separate colony and gold is discovered – both events caused upheaval and the creation of an effective policing body was disrupted by the speed in which the goldfields evolved. Police were needed, and they were needed quickly. Sovereign Hill is doing extensive research on the role of the newly formed policing groups on the goldfields. This includes extensive research on uniforms of the day; roles of the gold escort, mounted police, and troopers; and historical backgrounds on serving individuals.
The ‘Redcoats’ – the 40th Regiment of Foot
Sovereign Hill’s 40th Regiment of Foot (the Redcoats) are one of the highlights of Sovereign Hill’s program. They are also the face of Sovereign Hill at high profile public events in Melbourne and Ballarat. The replica 1850s military uniforms worn by the Redcoats were last replaced in the 1990s and were in dire need of replacement.
After an extensive fundraising campaign and an intensive research and manufacturing project headed by the Costume Department, the new uniforms are now ready for our visitors to enjoy and our staff to wear with pride. The research and making of the new uniforms has involved a global search for suitable fabrics and materials. Where possible, the exact garment construction methods from the 1850s have been reproduced with certain elements of the uniforms made at Sovereign Hill by our own craftsmen, showcasing some of the historical trades and skills nurtured and kept alive by Sovereign Hill.
This research is ongoing as new information comes to light.
The Chinese on the Victorian goldfields
Extensive research has been undertaken by Sovereign Hill on the stories associated with the arrival of the Chinese on the Victorian goldfields. Discrimination on the goldfields and the way in which the Chinese responded, particularly after Eureka, is an important part of this research. In addition significant Chinese temple and processional assemblages are managed by Sovereign Hill and have informed the structures and interpretation of the Chinese village.
Sovereign Hill and the Gold Museum were proud to contribute to Culture Victoria’s “Many Roads: Chinese on the Goldfields”.
Horse drawn carriages
Sovereign Hill’s has a significant historical collection of horse-drawn vehicles, many of which are on display at W Proctor, Wheelwright & Coach Manufactory, and across the Outdoor Museum. Research is ongoing into the role of horse-drawn vehicles in the Victorian Goldfields, as well as coach-making techniques and materials.
Sovereign Hill was proud to contribute to Victorian Collections “Making and Using Transport on the Goldfields”.
Extravagance, Tradition & Power: An exploration of Lieutenant-Governor Charles La Trobe’s Uniform
With the support of the State Library of Victoria and the La Trobe Society, Sovereign Hill Costume Team member Megan Anderson has just completed a research fellowship to unlock the secrets of Victoria’s first Lieutenant-Governor Charles La Trobe’s (1839-1854) uniform. As part of Sovereign Hills’ dedication to historical accuracy, this research will be applied to the Outdoor Museum with the possibility of developing new activations centred around this character and his spectacular uniform.
Search our collection
The Gold Museum cares for around 150,000 items, covering a diverse range of collections from mining and military history through to costume and photography.
Browse the various collections which make up the Gold Museum’s holdings and discover the rich array of stories held within.Discover more