Architecture Museum

Architecture Museum

Reading Room

Discover more than 200,000 items including architectural drawings, correspondence, photographs and architects’ personal papers as well as a library of books, research reports, journals and trade literature.

Plan your visit

The University of South Australia's Architecture Museum is a unique repository of architects’ and allied professionals’ records and a dynamic hub of research into South Australia’s architectural and built environment history.

The Architecture Museum is a facility for the acquisition, preservation and management of architectural and related records produced by private practitioners based in South Australia. It aims to:

  • promote scholarly enquiry into South Australia’s built environment history
  • secure funding to conduct research projects based on its collections
  • publish research outcomes from Museum-centred projects
  • arrange public exhibitions of its holdings.

Research

Archiving Digital Architectural Records

The challenges of collecting born-digital architectural records sit alongside the increasing demand for the digitisation of paper records, yet both face risks for their future preservation. Dr Julie Collins, Curator at the Architecture Museum, has written a piece for the Association of Consulting Architects calling for the preservation not only of paper based architectural records, but also those born in the digital age. In it she shared some important steps architects can take to ensure future generations will have the opportunity to remember today’s architecture. You can read the article HERE.

Towards a National Framework

One of the research projects undertaken by the Architecture Museum developed a framework for archiving born digital architectural records. The key challenges associated with archiving these records involves: establishing the rationale for collecting records produced in a digital environment, determining which records to archive and how to archive them, and understanding how to achieve digital continuity in rapidly evolving and changing electronic environments. This research was funded by NATSPEC, a national not-for-profit organisation whose objective is to improve the construction quality and productivity of the built environment through leadership of information. You can learn more about how our project and how to archive digital records on the NATSPEC website HERE.

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architecture museum foyerArchitecture Museum, Kaurna Building, photographer Sam Noonan 2012

Using the Museum collections

The Architecture Museum is an invaluable resource for researchers, students, and practitioners from a range of disciplines, architects, planners, engineers, heritage consultants, historians and all those interested in the State’s built history and heritage.

Housed in a purpose-built facility, our research collection is comprised of more than 200,000 items including architectural drawings, correspondence, photographs and architects’ personal papers, as well as a library of books, research reports, journals, and trade literature. These items have been donated by architects working in private practice in South Australia during the twentieth century, particularly in the period circa 1910 to 1980.

Search collection and catalogue

Opening hours
Monday to Wednesday - 10.00am-12noon and 1.00pm-4.00pm (by appointment only)

Contact us to arrange an appointment

Rolled plans

Department Store monograph

Monograph Series

The Architecture Museum produces a colour monograph series of books on South Australian architectural history. These can be purchased online at PayUniSA for $20 plus postage if required. The most recent publication is on Department Store Architecture in South Australia, launched in May 2023 to coincide with an exhibition on the same topic.

Buy Monographs

architecture students

Research degree opportunities

The Architecture Museum offers a diverse and rich array of sources for research degree (both PhD and Masters) projects in fields including: architecture, built environment history and theory, interior architecture, urban history, design, social and cultural history. Get in touch with UniSA Creative staff to discuss options for your research degree and how you can use the resources available in the Architecture Museum.

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Staff member in the architecture office of F. Kenneth Milne

 

 

 

Architects of South Australia Database

Search this selection of South Australian architects' biographies and works from 1836 to the present day. This database contains historical information on individuals, architectural practices, built works and lists of sources.

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Architecture museum collections displayed on a wall

UniSA Architecture Museum: These walls can talk

“Architecture is built on precedent,” says Dr Julie Collins, architectural historian, curator, and active researcher. “It involves looking back and seeing what has worked and what hasn’t and building on from those things that have served us well.”

Profile of UniSA Architecture Museum written by Bill Condie

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Past Event 2023

16-17 November 2023 International Confederation of Architectural Museums (ICAM) Australasian Regional meeting

University of South Australia, City West, Adelaide

The ICAM regional meeting included speakers from across Australia and New Zealand including Kevin Liu (Warren Mahoney and GSD Harvard), David Kennedy (Robert Bird Engineers and Engineering Heritage Australia), Sarah Cox (University of Auckland), Rachel Bell (Fletcher Trust), Antoinette Buchanan (ACT Heritage Library), Erin Kimber (Macmillan Brown Library), Ann Carew (RMIT Design Archives), Mary Lewis and Peter Johnson (State Library of Victoria), Chris Burns (Heritage South Australia), Bethany Pietsch (Lutheran Archives), Naomi Mullumby (University of Melbourne), Donald Watson (architectural historian, Queensland), Meher Bahl (Restore Conservation Services, Melbourne), and Cara Stewart and Sarah Rees (Powerhouse).

The meeting was joined live from Scotland by Rebecca Bailey - President of the International Confederation of Architectural Museums for her lecture titled 'From Georgio Vasari to M+: a global tour of architectural collections and their missions to “purify taste, ignite imagination… and awake genius.”'

Our history

Over the past two decades the Architecture Museum has held an important role in South Australia's cultural landscape as a resource for research, teaching and learning, raising awareness of the history and culture not only of South Australian built heritage but also of architecture more broadly. It began in the 1970s, when, in the absence of a repository in South Australia for retired private architectural practitioners to deposit their records, architectural historian Donald Leslie Johnson began collecting their archives. In 1990 he donated the collection to the School of the Built Environment at the University of South Australia. This collection of architectural drawings, ephemera and books began to be made publicly accessible in the late 1990s and was renamed the Architecture Museum in 2005 when it opened its doors in the Kaurna Building at the City West campus of the University of South Australia.

Our people

The Architecture Museum is open to the public Monday-Wednesday and is staffed by Curator, Dr Julie Collins, who manages the day-to-day operations of the Museum including collection management, exhibtion curation, and providing access to the reading room. Please contact Dr Julie Collins for any enquiries about using the Architecture Museum collections. Dr James Curry, as the Director of the Architecture Museum, oversees the overall direction, projects, and engagement functions of the Museum in conjunction with the Curatorial staff. 

Curatorial Assistants, Dr Susan Avey and Dr Susan Lustri work with the Curator on tasks associated with accessioning of the collections as well as assisting with exhibitions. Adjunct academic staff members, Assoc. Prof. Christine Garnaut, Tim Reeves, and Dr Louise Bird, are also associated with the Architecture Museum as curatorial assistants and researchers. All staff undertake research on and about the collection, specifically, architectural, planning, heritage, landscape and interior design histories.

The Architecture Museum has an Advisory Group comprised of members external to the University as well as key internal personnel. The Museum is a member of the International Confederation of Architecture Museums (ICAM).

Julie Collins
Research Fellow, UniSA Creative
K2-21, City West Campus
James Curry
Lecturer, UniSA Creative
City West Campus
Susan Avey
Academic Researcher, UniSA Creative
WL4-50, City West Campus
Christine Garnaut
Adjunct Associate Research Professor, UniSA Creative
K3-12, City West Campus
Louise Bird
Adjunct Research Fellow, UniSA Creative
Tim Reeves
Adjunct Research Fellow, UniSA Creative
Naomi Giles
Academic Researcher, UniSA Creative

Contact Us

Telephone: 08 8302 9235
Email: architecturemuseum@unisa.edu.au
Opening hours: Monday to Wednesday - 10.00 am-4.00 pm (by appointment only)

Where to find us

Building K - Level 2
University of South Australia's
City West Campus
2 Fenn Place
Adelaide 
South Australia 5000

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Architecture Museum, Kaurna Building, UniSA City West campus, Adelaide, SA 5000