Research & collections

The portfolio of Sydney Living Museums comprises historic house museums, buildings and sites that are of exceptional cultural significance for the people of NSW and for the nation. The house museums contain collections related to their particular history, including furniture and furnishings, pictures, ceramics, glassware, silverware and a variety of household goods. Two of the houses, Rouse Hill House and Meroogal, have intact historical collections including family papers, photographs and personal items.

Hyde Park Barracks Museum has an important archaeological collection recovered from beneath the floorboards of the building during its conservation in the 1980s. The Justice & Police Museum holds collections related to the history of crime and policing in NSW. The Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection is a specialised collection of trade literature, pattern books and domestic furnishings focused on the history of house and garden design and domestic interiors.

Electronic access to some of these collections is available through a suite of online catalogues, collection guides and collection stories.

The sitting room, Rouse Hill House, June 2004.
The sitting room, Rouse Hill House, June 2004. Photograph: Jenni Carter

Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection

CAROLINE SIMPSON LIBRARY & RESEARCH COLLECTION
Group of Lidcombe TAFE design students in the Scholars' Gallery during a tour of the Caroline Simpson Library. Photograph © Nicole Davis.

The Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection is open to anyone with an interest in the history of house and garden design and interior furnishing in NSW. It supports Sydney Living Museums’ work of interpreting and managing places of cultural significance in NSW and provides a specialist research resource for scholars, heritage and conservation practitioners, museum professionals designers and tertiary students.

House & Museum Collections

These collections are distributed across our portfolio of seven house museums and three historic place museums, where many items are on public view to visitors. Some collection formats are also accessible online though our Collections Catalogue, including pictures, wallpapers, floor coverings, garden ornament and builders’ hardware and ironmongery.

Pawn chess pieces from Luna Park chess set, 2001. Peter Kingston, artist and maker; hand-painted acrylic on cast resin
Pawn chess pieces from Luna Park chess set, 2001. Peter Kingston, artist and maker; hand-painted acrylic on cast resin. Museum of Sydney collection. Photo: Jenni Carter for Sydney Living Museums COL_MOS2011_0001_01-33x_0

Catalogues & research tools

Search our collections through our suite of online catalogues, databases and collection guides: print material and manuscripts through our Library Catalogue; photographs, drawings and paintings through our Pictures Catalogue; wall coverings, floor coverings, garden ornament and hardware through our Collections Catalogue. Explore our collection of digitised Trade Catalogues, search the Colonial Plants Database and study our guides to special collections.

Picture hook hardware trade sample book (detail). Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection.
Picture hook hardware trade sample book (detail). Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection. Photograph: Penny Clay

Threads of connection