La Trobe University's ethnographic collection (stored at CAVAL, Bundoora) comprises some 976 objects from Australia, Melanesia and further afield, and is an important part of the University's unique history.

In 1981 an LTU Anthropology Museum was founded under the auspice of the Sociology Department to house the collection's growing number of artefacts. These were donated by numerous Melbourne collectors of Oceanic and Australian Art through the initiatives of past sociology and anthropology staff, and collected as a part of their own fieldwork. While underpinned by concerns around the preservation of material culture, the primary objective of the collection was teaching related: to engage students in studies of anthropology, art history, archaeology, material culture studies and museology by providing a wide-ranging tactile collection of material culture, and by giving context to the societies and cultures from which objects derived.