During the 1980s the Naval Repository of Artifacts commenced occupation of Building 41 as armaments operations were consolidated and RANADs Newington and Kingswood. As other stores buildings became vacant they were reallocated to the repository for the Naval Historical Collection.
The main Heritage Collection building (41) is one of two airconditioned stores buildings on the Island. Other stores buildings house more robust heritage items and worksops are used by curators for the preservation and restoration of a range of items from uniforms to precision equipment and ships boats.
In addition to the full range of traditional heritage artefacts such as bells, name boards, weapons and uniforms spanning Australian naval history from the colonial period to present more unusual items are also stored. For example, a dedicated ‘Chapel’ store houses naval chaplaincy items from ships and shore establishments.
The chapel stores building has on occasion, doubled as a venue Christenings or Weddings. It is unknown where the original chapel was situated. In the early Royal Navy days, staff went ashore on Sundays to churches in Balmain. This was a problem as they later went to the hotels in Balmain and had to be retrieved.
The complex railway system continues to be used for the movement of large and heavy items around the Island. Manual effort is used to push the trolleys know n a ‘drugs’.
In 2010 the collection was renamed ‘The Naval Heritage Collection’ to coincide with the opening of the RAN Heritage Centre. Heritage Centre on Garden Island is a world class museum open to the public and accessible by ferry from Circular Quay. The exhibition features naval heritage items collected over more than 100 years which were previously stored on Spectacle Island and not available for public viewing.