The large eclectic collection covers a wide variety of themes of local importance and includes objects from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some of the individual collections are comprehensive and have been gathered with intent to demonstrate the history of a movement or an organisation over time.
The museum artefact, photographic and document collection is made up largely of donations by individuals within the Ararat district. Some domestic items are on open display in six themed 'rooms'. Large pieces of machinery are displayed outside, along with the refurbished blacksmiths shop.
The collection is strong in aspects of the nineteenth and early twentieth century history of the town and district. Some more contemporary items, such as those relating to local World Champion and Olympic Cyclist Shane Kelly OAM and other local identities are also in the collection.
The museum also houses the largest collection of Aboriginal artefacts in Victoria, (the Mooney and Best collections), items with provenance to the Ararat goldfields, objects from the large squatters estates in the district, items relating to farming, commerce, war, social, domestic and community life. The surviving collection of an earlier Ararat Borough Museum set up around 1900 also form part of the collection.