We’re searching for the oldest museum or gallery in regional NSW

Brislington Medical Nursing Museum, Parramatta established 1929

Recently M&G NSW received an enquiry asking us if we knew which organisation was the oldest regional museum in New South Wales. This turned out to be a very interesting question as while most people will know that the Australian Museum is Australia’s oldest museum (having being established in 1827), there isn’t much information available on who is our oldest regional museum.

When M&G NSW conducted a census of NSW institutions in 2013, 37% of museums said that they were established before 1980. Further research suggests that a good number of these institutions were established during the 1960s and 1970s. This is largely believed to be a result of the efforts of Eric Dunlop, a lecturer from Armidale’s Teachers College who published a paper in 1960 celebrating the development of folk museums in the New England region. The publishing of Dunlop’s paper saw interest in developing folk museums in NSW increase significantly, and as a result the 1960s and 1970s saw the establishment of many of the museums that are currently operating today.

In order to try and get a definitive answer, we are putting a call out to all regional museums and galleries to try and determine who was established first. As a starting point, we’ve provided a list of the oldest institutions according to our records.

The earliest establishment dates in our records include: 


If your organisation was established either before or within this time period, please contact us and let us know. You can call Jordan on 9339 9913 or email jordanc@mgnsw.org.au.

Read more about Eric Dunlop and the rise of folk museums in NSW.


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