The collection grew through the efforts of particular staff members of the departments of Classical Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Fine Arts and History and its shape largely reflects their specific teaching and research interests.
From the initial donation of five Egyptian papyri in 1901 the collection has expanded through donations and purchases from University funds, with significant accessions in every decade of the twentieth century. Although the pattern of collecting has been unstructured, after a century the result has been the development of three important collections, namely the Classics, Cypriot and Middle Eastern collections.
Extract from P. Yule, 'Classics, Cypriot and Middle Eastern Collections', in C. McAuliffe & P. Yule (eds.), Treasures: Highlights of the Cultural Collections of the University of Melbourne, Carlton, 2003, pp. 17-18.