By any standard the Art and Heritage Collection is eclectic. Its most basic division is between its indoor and outdoor components, between artworks that need to be protected from the elements and those that do not. Eight thousand items have been catalogued.
Lord Mayoral portraits are the cornerstone of the indoor collection and take pride of place in the Melbourne Town Hall. Other key categories of the indoor collection include artworks and artefacts relating to: the ceremonial and civic functions of Council, including gifts; the multiple branches and activities of the City of Melbourne; events that have taken place in the City, such as the Moomba Festival and the 1956 Olympic Games; historic Melbourne more generally; and a contemporary art collection which favours representations of Melbourne and city life, works by urban Indigenous artists and environmental themes. The Art and Heritage Collection is a working collection. At any point in time, much of the collection is on display in either the Melbourne Town Hall, the City Gallery (free admission), or other Council buildings. Items not on display are held at the collection store in Little Bourke Street, a secure facility with temperature and climate control. The collection store provides a centre for research, conservation and collection management. Items held in the store are brought out on display on a rotational basis.