The Museum houses the largest public collection of its type in Queensland and is used in the teaching and research activities of the Discipline of Classics & Ancient History within the School of Historical and Philosophical Inquiry.
In 1963, the purchase at a London auction-house of a Red-figure Attic amphora marked the establishment of a collection of antiquities designed to enrich the teaching programs of Classics and Ancient History at The University of Queensland.
Over a period of thirty years the collection grew steadily in size and in reputation, and today the Antiquities Museum has on display a broad range of ancient artefacts stemming from Western Asia, Egypt, Greece and Italy. This archaeological material reflects the achievements of the great ancient civilisations which developed in the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea. The collection provides the only comprehensive survey of ancient Mediterranean antiquities on public view in Queensland. The objects span almost 3500 years of history, and are in a variety of materials - stone, pottery, terracotta, metalware and glass. Together they give a picture of the technological and artistic advances made over that time by the forerunners of Western civilisation.
Many acquisitions in the collection have been made possible through gifts. Generous donations consisting of coins, terracottas, glassware, pottery, and pictorial material, have greatly enhanced the range and depth of the collection's teaching function.
The collection was started a few years before Professor Milns was appointed, but his strong advocacy over the years was recognised when the Museum was renamed the R D Milns Antiquities Museum. Professor Milns was strongly supported by Messrs. Don Barrett, Max Kanowski and Bruce Gollan who became the Museum's first Director.