The main collection of the MAC houses, displays and cares for a collection of over 7000 artefacts which come from the ancient Mediterranean world covering the Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Near Eastern cultures. These are displayed geographically and arranged primarily in chronological order, with some thematic displays for instructional purposes. Through purchase, donation, excavation and benefaction, the Museum's collection has continued to grow over the years.
The Museum also holds the largest papyrus collection in the southern hemisphere. This is an important specialist research collection housed in a carefully-designed, world-class area. The collection holds mostly Greek literary texts with prominent pieces including an Acts of the Apostles fragment and three early Christian letters from Oxyrhynchus. Funds to purchase this material have been provided by the University, which has shown a long commitment to the further development and growth of the Museum.
The Museum also holds a modest coin collection used for basic teaching within the undergraduate Ancient History programs and for the Education Programs of the Museum. This collection has been published by Associate Professor C.E.V. (Ted) Nixon (now retired) as Nixon, C.E.V. (1996). Catalogue of the Coins in the Macquarie University Museum of Ancient Cultures. Macquarie University: Sydney, Australia.
Growth in the Museum has also been supported by some very generous donors and benefactors. While some of these are individuals (and we seek further, on-going support from like-minded people), other supporters are institutional.
The MAC's growth has also been supported by the Foundation for the Study of Ancient Cultures and the Sir Asher Joel Foundation as well as some donations from the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.
We have also received financial help from affiliated associations such as the Macquarie Ancient History Association (MAHA) and the Society for the Study of Early Christianity (SSEC), and generous financial support of the History Teachers' Association of NSW (HTA). All of these organisations have supported the study of Ancient History in NSW over many years.
The Museum collection has also grown by the inclusion of some material that was acquired from excavations in Egypt and Israel in which staff and students of the University have participated.
The Museum has also acquired a number of loan collections from institutions such as the Australian Museum (Sydney) and the Australian Institute of Archaeology (Melbourne) and from a number of private collectors. The addition of these loan collections has enabled us to expand our displays and helped us to develop further our range of teaching and community-based programs.
The Museum of Ancient Cultures publicly acknowledges the support of all its donors and benefactors as well as those institutions and individuals who have supported us with loans of material. Our thanks go to you all.
The Museum of Ancient Cultures is a member of Museums Australia, the peak industry body for museums in Australia, and is also a member of one of its Special Interest Groups - CAUMAC, the Council of Australian University Museums and Collections.
The Museum is also a part of the international world of museums as a member of ICOM and its most recent sub-committee, UMAC, the University Museums and Collections Committee. The inaugural chair of this committee was Dr Peter Stanbury, then a member of Macquarie University's staff.
Separate to the Museum of Ancient Cultures, but strongly allied to it, is the Australian Centre for Ancient Numismatic Studies (ACANS). This is a specialist ancient numismatic research facility set up by Macquarie University with the direct support of very generous benefactors, Dr W.L. and Mrs J. Gale. A representative sample of coins from the ACANS collection is on display in the Museum's main gallery.