Unley Museum | Review

Unley Museum’s New Touchscreen & Fun Exhibitions

Community museums are like ‘secret’ suburban gems. If you’ve got one nearby, it’s well worth dropping in … and it’s often FREE to do so, as with the Unley Museum.

by Carla Caruso

This treasure trove, run by the Unley Council, brings to life the area’s past and people via 12,000-plus photos and objects. All were donated by locals. As its website says: “We believe that history is created by the things that people do.”

Housed in the former Unley Fire Station, this isn’t a museum that ropes off it displays or demands a quiet church-like atmosphere. Instead it encourages kids to roam around and get up close and personal with local history – through touch, sight and sound.

The exhibitions and interactive displays change regularly. And a new addition is a 55-inch educational touchscreen, where objects literally “come alive beneath your fingertips”. Kids can peruse the museum’s many intriguing items using the interactive technology, below. It’s a fun way for them to learn about objects, from a Polaroid camera to a retro toy mouse,  through video, animation and audio.

Got a mini sleuth in the family? They’ll also love the museum’s ongoing exhibition, Terrible Tales of Unley. It explores Unley’s dark secrets and strange occurrences, from mystery to murder, fire and floods. Littlies can try their hand at lock-picking, cracking the safe code, or solving a local mystery. It’s so much cooler exploring stories that happened on our own doorstep rather than in some faraway place. (The exhibition’s also twice won a MAGNA – a Museums and Galleries National Award; not a bad effort.)

Another ongoing museum exhibition worth checking out is one called Unley: 200 Years of Change. Here, you can learn about Unley’s former zoo (yes, zoo! Tommy the elephant was a star attraction at the Cremorne Hotel gardens in the 1850s). Plus … dress in costume, take photos in front of historical backdrops, watch films, and try your hand at one of the oldest video games, Atari Pong. A ton of interesting photos and objects help to showcase Unley’s colourful history.

The museum also staged a military exhibition, based on Sandra Kearney’s thesis, Unley’s Own – Returning Home, until October 3, 2019. This explored the experiences of soldiers of the 27th Australian Infantry Battalion as they returned home after service on the front during the Great War. Dialogue, memorabilia and keepsakes helped to tell the stories.

As well, locals can delve into their family tree or house’s history through the museum’s family history service.

As US astronomer Carl Sagan once said: “You have to know the past to understand the present.” Put Unley Museum on your to-do list today ?

What we like

  • It’s FREE
  • The local history aspect – it’s cool learning about what’s happened in our ‘backyard’ rather than further afield
  • The intrigue of the ever-changing – and the ongoing – exhibitions
  • Kids are encouraged to interact with the displays here; nothing’s roped off – and children’s noise ok!
  • The fun of the museum’s new educational touchscreen
  • It feels good to support something so community-oriented
  • Great for rainy days

Things to consider

  • Older kids will have more to do here than bubs and tots
  • Some of the rooms and hallways are narrow if you’re pushing a pram

Coffee and food options nearby

  • There are plenty of eateries within walking distance, including La Scala Café and Pizzeria, and Bricks and Stones Café, as well as a heap at Unley Shopping Centre.


Museum Opening Hours:

  • Monday to Wednesday | 10am-4pm
  • Thursday | 10am-6pm
  • Sunday | 2pm-5pm
  • Closed public holidays

Review by Carla Caruso

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See our Top Parks & Playgrounds Around Adelaide here.

For more information, please visit the City of Unley Council website.

What: Unley Museum

When:    5 days a week, excluding public holidays (see museum opening hours above)

Where: 80 Edmund Ave, Unley

Who:   Everyone

All photos by Carla Caruso for Play & Go Adelaide 

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.


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