Brisbane Museums Old Pottery

Roman Pottery in the Abbey Museum collection

The scope of the Abbey Museum’s collections places it amongst the most significant holdings of international art and antiquities in Australia..

Spanning 500,000 years of history from the prehistoric age through to the end of the 19th century, the displays include objects from:

  • Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia
  • Ancient Rome, Etruria and Greece
  • Medieval and Tudor Europe
  • World of Islam
  • China, Japan and Southeast Asia

 The significant Medieval and Renaissance collections include:

  • objects of daily life such as weapons, woodwork and pottery;
  • major artworks including illuminated manuscripts and Old Master paintings.

There are more than 4,000 objects in the collection.

The nearby Abbey Church houses a significant collection of stained glass and artworks dating from the Middle Ages through to the early 20th century, including important 15th century stained glass fragments from Winchester Cathedral. (Learn about our Medieval Stained Glass and Museum Tours)


The Museum has an active research program in consultation with international scholars, universities and museums. Staff at institutions including the British Museum, the Museum of London, Middlealdercentret in Denmark, Oxford University, the Ashmolean Museum, the Royal Collections, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the University of Vienna have generously provided assistance to our research programs

The Abbey Museum Collection Management team meet most Saturdays with Michael Strong (Senior Curator), and Jan Nargar (Registrar), to research, document and manage the collection. Each team member is given a project to research objects in the collection prior to entering this data in the catalogue file.  Objects researched to date include:

  • A large collection of medieval and baroque jettons
  • A 17th century longcase clock
  • A large collection of medieval manuscripts
  • Victorian hat pins
  • A large collection of prints of Old Masters by the Arundel Society

The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Macquarie University are undertaking a program of research on the important series of cuneiform tablets in the Museum’s collections, especially a rare astronomical Babylonian tablet from the Seleucid period.

A cup in Doccia Ware depicting flaying of Marsyas from the Abbey Museum Collection

A cup in Doccia Ware depicting flaying of Marsyas from the Abbey Museum Collection

Mystery Lion Sculpture part of the Abbey Museum collection

Abbey Museum Mystery Lion Sculpture

Like many museums, in the Abbey Museum collection there are some mystery objects. Objects that we have just not been able to identify. One such object is a pottery lion sculpture … provenience unknown, age unknown. But it is such an amazing piece we would love to have your help to identify this mystery object.

Abbey Museum Collection Policy

The Abbey Museum collects a wide range of world antiquities and art from prehistory through to the mid 19th century. A strict Collection Policy ensures the quality of the collections is maintained and provides a legal process for accepting donations of art and antiquities that recognises the danger of illegal trade in antiquities.

Donating artefacts to the Museum

The Abbey Museum welcomes donations of cultural objects, provided they fit our collection policy.

Significant items donated include:

  • A major and highly significant collection of antiquities from Syria and Turkey
  • A collection of antiquities from Central Asia and Afghanistan
  • an 1870s Penny Farthing bicycle
  • 17th century painting of St John the Baptist from the Queensland Art Gallery.

If you have an object of cultural or historical significance that you would like to donate to the Museum and are not sure whether it fits the Museum’s collections policy please contact us. The Australian Government offers tax incentives for the donation of antiquities and art objects over a certain value through the Cultural Gifts Program. For more information please contact us.

Conservation program

Antiquities and old artworks require conservation to ensure they will survive for future generations. The Museum is currently raising funds for a number of projects including the conservation of its significant stained glass collection, which includes treasures from the medieval Winchester Cathedral and the destroyed Charterhouse of St Barbara in Koln and a collection of Mesopotamian clay cuneiform tablets.