A large collection of Zulu material culture including beadwork, woodcarvings, ceramics, and weaponry. The beadwork collection is rated as one of the most comprehensive and well-researched in South Africa. Also important is a small but valuable collection of nineteenth-century items associated with Zulu royalty: ceramic vessels and four strings of wooden beads, iziqu, apparently awarded for valour in battle. A well-documented assemblage of headrests, milk pails and meat platters from Msinga in KwaZulu-Natal makes up the Jolles Collection, gathered by museum research associate Professor Frank Jolles in the 1990s
A well-documented collection of Southern Sotho material culture, including an assemblage of 30 rare Southern Sotho ceramic pieces dating to the early 1900s.
West African material culture, including a set of Ashanti gold weights from Ghana, and woodcarvings such as masks.
African textile collection from beyond the provincial borders.
Colonial Victoriana of KwaZulu-Natal, which formed the basis of the exhibits portraying aspects of life in Victorian Pietermaritzburg.
Items and weaponry relating to the Anglo-Zulu War.
An initiative of Graham Dominy, the Amandla Collection includes material specifically associated with the anti-apartheid struggle and its consequences (banners, T-shirts, caps, buttons, and documents). Much of it comes from the Midlands: items associated with Pietermaritzburg's Seven Days War in March 1990 and township conflict on the Witwatersrand make the Museum's collection of war memorabilia of the 1800s and 1900s more comprehensive.
Video recording and film of "living culture" (rituals, dances, oral data etc).