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Mary MacKillop Museum

Home > Adelaide > Spirituality | Places of Worship | Places of Interest | Museums | Churches
by Jenny Esots (subscribe)
A freelance writer and traveller who likes to explore the spiritual, literary and hidden gems of Adelaide and beyond.
Published January 3rd 2023
An Australian woman who showed her faith in action
Kensington, in the leafy inner city of Adelaide, is home to the Mary MacKillop Precinct. The precinct includes a school, museum, chapel, cafe and gift shop. The modern museum features all facets of the life of Mary MacKillop in interactive displays. Visitors are given a card to access info via a QR code for the many fascinating storyboards throughout. The recommended minimum time to allow for a visit is one hour.

Mary MacKillop Museum
Mary MacKillop Museum


The Life of Mary MacKillop

Mary MacKillop was an inspirational leader who was able to stand firm in her beliefs against strong opposition from within the church and the wider community. Mary is a revered woman of faith who was able to adapt the strict doctrines of the Catholic church to provide care, education and spiritual guidance to everyday Australian people. Mary had a pioneering spirit, egalitarian ideals and deep faith and commitment and left a lasting legacy.

Detail from Mary MacKillop of Australia, Oil on canvas. Artist: Jiawei Shen in Mary MacKillop: A Tribute. Andrew Wilson, Art Gallery of South Australia, Powerhouse Museum, and Parliament House. (Leichhardt, N.S.W.: Honeysett, 1995).
Detail from Mary MacKillop of Australia, Oil on canvas. Artist: Jiawei Shen in Mary MacKillop: A Tribute. Andrew Wilson, Art Gallery of South Australia, Powerhouse Museum, and Parliament House. (Leichhardt, N.S.W.: Honeysett, 1995).


More about Mary

Mary was of Scottish ancestry. She was born inFitzroy, Melbournebut is best known for her activities in South Australia. Together with Julian Tenison-Woods, she founded the Sisters of St Joseph of the Sacred Heart(the Josephites), a congregation of religious sisters that established a number of schools and welfare institutions throughout Australia and New Zealand, with an emphasis on education for the rural poor. Mary MacKillop was not immediately recognised for her vision and dedication to the Church and its mission of service to the general community.

Mary MacKillop Museum
Mary MacKillop Museum


Turning Points in Mary's Life

The many facets of Mary's life are displayed in the museum including the many turning points in her life including: The weight of responsibility for her family at an early age, taking her vows for poverty, chastity and obedience, starting a rural school in Penola in a stable, conflict with the bishop and Catholic Church about governance of the schools and the Rule of Life, being excommunicated, living in exile, going to the Vatican to have an audience with the Pope.

Mary MacKillop Museum
Mary MacKillop Museum


Gift Shop

A gift shop forms part of the museum near the entrance. It features quality Christian books, including delightful children's books. There is also a comprehensive range of jewellery, rosaries, cards, stationery and other gifts and keepsakes.

Mary MacKillop Museum Gift Shop
Mary MacKillop Museum Gift Shop

Mary MacKillop Museum Gift Shop


High Street Cafe

Directly adjoining the Museum is the High Street cafe that has indoor and outdoor seating, with plenty of options for brunch and good quality coffee. The cafe has a peaceful setting, looking out onto the Mary MacKillop Memorial Rose Garden and Mary MacKillop Park. There are even toys for the children to play with and some big shady trees outside, it's a little coffee oasis waiting to be found.

High Street Cafe


The St Joseph's Chapel is within short walking distance. This is a place to breathe in Mary's spirit and pray where she prayed so often. There is a prayer book so that others can pray for your needs too.

St Joseph's Chapel
St Joseph's Chapel
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Why? An Australian woman who showed her faith in action
When: Tuesday to Sunday, 10.00am 4.00pm. Closed: Mondays.
Where: 19 Phillips Street, Kensington SA 5068 Cnr of High Street)
Cost: There is an entrance fee for the museum
Your Comment
I can remember when Mary McKillop was canonised back in 2010. It was big news then.
by Gayle Beveridge-Marien (score: 4|10399) 33 days ago
She lived an extrraordinary life and the museum seems to have captured the artifacts and story well
by Gillian Ching (score: 3|6212) 34 days ago
An educational article about a great Australian.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|4546) 34 days ago
There is another fabulous museum dedicated to Mary MacKillop in Penola.
by Jenny Prior (score: 3|4270) 35 days ago
I visited the Penola musuem when I lived in Port Fairy in the 1990s and wrote an article back then about Mary.
by Roz Glazebrook (score: 2|901) 32 days ago
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