The Western Australian Museum’s history reflects and documents the State’s rich and diverse natural and cultural heritage. Established in 1891 in the old Perth gaol, it was known as the Geological Museum and its collections were geological, ethnological and biological. In 1897, it officially became the Western Australian Museum and Art Gallery.
During 1959, the botanical collection was transferred to the new Herbarium and the Museum and the Art Gallery became separate institutions. The Museum focused its collecting and research interests in the areas of natural sciences, anthropology, archaeology and the State’s history.
Over the 1960s and 1970s, it also began to work in the emerging areas of historic shipwrecks and Aboriginal site management.
The Western Australian Museum comprises six public sites, a collection and research centre, and houses more than 4.5 million objects from rare fossils to the iconic racing yacht Australia II. The Museum also manages 200 shipwreck sites of the 1500 known to be located off the WA coast, and manages eight Aboriginal land reserves.
The WA Museum site in Perth was closed in 2016 to make way for a new museum which is scheduled to open in the Perth Cultural Centre in 2020.