The 63,000 plus items in the engineering collection document the history and achievements of Victorian engineering, its influence on Australia's manufacturing and mining industries, and the role of invention and innovation in maintaining a globally competitive local engineering and manufacturing industry.
The collection includes items relating to construction and public infrastructure, machinery, engines, steam generation, mechanisms, fasteners, hydraulics, electric power and gas generation and distribution, electric motors, control equipment, manufacturing equipment, machine tools, and drafting and engineering drawings and designs.
The Engineering Collection is one of the Museum's oldest collections, with many of the mining models commissioned during the 1850s. During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the collection had an international focus documenting major engineering milestones and providing a range of models and sectioned exhibits to explain how technologies worked.
Since the early 1980s the collection has focused on engineering within the Victorian context, documenting stories of local engineering designs, manufacturing and innovations, the local application of technologies developed overseas, and to a lesser extent public infrastructure and the wider social and environmental impact of engineering. Hand tools, used in traditional trades, and mechanical engineering, particularly in its application to engines, pumps and machine tools, have also been a targeted collecting area. During this period there has also been a focus on acquiring groups or 'collections' of related material which document the many facets of engineering developments and include complementary materials in the form of images and archives.