The museum, which was established by Mr HF Sentker in the De Doorns building in 1957, has grown to accommodate expanding collections and to cater for growing student numbers. It is presently located on the 4th floor of the Theo van Wijk building on the UNISA campus on Muckleneuk Ridge. The collection now boasts some 27 000 objects, the direct result of years of dedicated work by lecturers and museum personnel.
The Museum is part of the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at UNISA and functions as an independent entity (with exhibitions, store rooms and laboratories) and a study collection.
The Anthropology collection consists mainly of artefacts that are representative of the life and traditions of indigenous peoples of Southern Africa. These include pottery, beadwork, musical instruments and utensils for daily use. Since 1975 the Junod Collection has also been housed in the museum and features the traditional material culture of the Tsonga people. The Palaeo-Anthropology collection consists of casts made from original hominid fossils. Two exceptional specimens are the Taung child and Mrs Ples (both Australopithecus africanus).
There is also a large Archaeological collection which includes artefacts dating from the Stone Age, Iron Age and the historical period of South Africa's past. This collection is the result of years of research and excavations by the lecturers of the Department. In addition, several tracings of San rock paintings from Mpumalanga Province of South Africa are housed or displayed in the Museum. The Museum has an active accession policy. This means that artefacts are still regularly being purchased.