The museum holds a vast archaeological collection among which is evidence from the biggest trade market in central Africa and excavated finding of prehistoric Broken Hill man. It also holds the largest collection of the biodiversity of Zambia as well as a rich ethnographic collection dating back to the early 20th century. The museum also holds a vast collection of David Livingstone memorabilia, has one of the oldest libraries in the country and an extensive archive.
The present Museum building was first opened in November 1950, although extensions have been added over the years. In 2003 the building underwent structural renovations and the public exhibitions were given a complete overhaul, bringing them up to date and enhancing them with modern and artistic ideas to make them more attractive to the visitor