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The Museum's public affairs strategies this year significantly increased the amount of regional, national and metropolitan media coverage of the organisation's activities. This coverage was partly based on a strong program of travelling exhibitions including Rare Trades in Adelaide and Ipswich; Behind the Lines in Brisbane and Melbourne; I am Woman, Hear Me Draw in Victoria; Stories from Australia in Adelaide, Outlawed! in Melbourne, and the beginning of a ten-venue tour of Hickory Dickory Dock.
The Public Affairs section also targeted various national, regional and niche media matched to different overseas and Australian outlaw legends featured in Outlawed!, after it opened at the Museum in November. The same tactic delivered state based coverage of Royal Romance from February, timed and targeted to the media of each state through which the Queen moved exactly 50 years ago. The section also built national campaigns around the Museum's quest to find key objects, from an FJ Holden in original condition to memorabilia of young pilgrims to Gallipoli. Regional and metropolitan radio remains an important vehicle of national exposure. The Museum's recent auction room successes to build the National Historical Collection were also well covered.
The Talkback Classroom series is now broadcast on both ABC Radio National and SBS TV. It too contributes to the Museum's wide national media coverage, and that of local media interested in the stories of student interviewers selected from their area.
This year the Museum built considerable media collaborations to stage and promote public forums, build coverage and exploit its broadcast studio facilities. Media partnerships include 702 and 666 ABC Radio, ABC Radio National, ABC TV and SBS TV. Public Affairs and Foxtel's History Channel also co-produced a series of interstitials around outlaw legends to be broadcast free concurrent with the travelling exhibition, along with free exhibition advertisements and birthday promotions for the National Museum. This broadcasting time is worth almost $250,000.
The Public Affairs section continues to build communication and program/exhibition partnerships with a diverse group of organisations. Partnerships this year included:
- the Smithsonian Institution
- the Parliamentary Education Office
- Adult Learning Australia
- Canberra Mothercraft Society
- AIDS Action Council
- CSIRO and the Australian Science Festival
- National Archeology Week
- the Murray-Darling Basin Commission
- Powerhouse Museum
- Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation
- the new Gab Titui cultural centre on Thursday Island
- the Wallabies and ACT Brumbies Rugby clubs
- the Melbourne Cup Carnival
- the Holden FX and FJ Car Club.
This year began with the release of the Review of Exhibitions and Public Programs (2003), saw the departure of the founding director and eventual confirmation of her successor, and concluded with the release of the Museum's new strategic directions for its galleries and collections. All these events received considerable coverage and comment in the media. The Museum welcomes diversity of viewpoints and debate and response to the media coverage was managed accordingly.
Marketing the Museum
In April 2003, as part of the Museum's three-year marketing strategy, the Museum launched a campaign to establish and enhance recognition of the Museum's brand across a wider audience, create visitation from new markets and encourage repeat visitation from existing markets. For the last 12 months, the campaign concentrated on Sydney, the Australian Capital Territory and southern New South Wales with some exposure in Melbourne and was executed in different forms including billboards, bus advertising and television commercials.
A national survey conducted by Newspoll in May 2004 indicated that the community's level of awareness of the Museum has risen steadily and that the number of people identifying the Museum as 'a place worth making a special visit to' has risen considerably. The results also show that the brand awareness campaign has been successful in positioning the Museum as a stimulating and engaging place to visit.
Successful campaigns were developed for temporary exhibitions, such as Rare Trades: Making Things by Hand in the Digital Age and Outlawed! Discover the Stories behind the World's Rebels, Revolutionaries and Bushrangers . Targeted marketing campaigns supported the Museum's other temporary exhibitions (Snapshots of Glory, Royal Romance and Refined White) and travelling exhibitions (Behind the Lines and Hickory Dickory Dock).
The campaign for Sky Lounge 2004 - held each Friday night in February - built on the successful marketing of previous Sky Lounge events and resulted in four sell-out nights.
Other highlights included:
- the success of the Shop marketing strategy which contributed to a substantial increase in sales
- separate marketing campaigns for schools programs, Museum tours and school holiday programs
- development of tour packages for inbound tour operators and international markets
- winning ACT's Best Tourist Attraction.
The Museum continued to strengthen its collaborative relationships with tourism industry associations such as the Tourism Task Force, Canberra Convention Bureau, Australian Tourist Commission and Australian Capital Tourism Corporation.
The Museum in print
The Museum publishes books and catalogues as part of its research, exhibitions and outreach activities. Publishing is an effective means of recording the Museum's scholarship, disseminating it to national and international audiences and, through this, enhancing public knowledge and understanding of Australian history and culture.
During 2003-2004, readers in Australia purchased 14,500 copies of Museum publications. Almost 50 per cent of sales were through bookstores across Australia, the remainder through the Museum Shop and mail order. The percentage of off-site sales is high for a cultural institution and demonstrates the Museum's ability to engage with audiences beyond the physical venue.
Ten new publications were added to the Museum's list in 2003-2004. They included exhibition catalogues for Behind the Lines, Outlawed! and Royal Romance (see page 23-25 for exhibition details). Along with information and images from the exhibitions, Museum catalogues provide additional research and commentary on the subjects. They aim to help visitors engage with the exhibition beyond their visit, and give non-visitors the opportunity to explore the content.
Other publications released included the first three titles in the ongoing National Museum of Australia Collection Series. These books, which focus on single objects or collections from the NHC, aim to make Museum research attainable for non-specialised readers. They are accessibly written, attractively packaged and affordably priced. The first three titles feature the PS Enterprise, the Sundowner Bean car and the Museum's collection of quilts. Another series publication on the collection of batiks from Ernabella is scheduled for release early in 2004-2005.
Children and families are key audiences for the Museum. This year the Museum published three books for children and their families and educators. The first, ABC at the National Museum of Australia, is an alphabetical journey for preschoolers through the Museum's collections. This book received a highly commended award in the education section of the Museums Australia Publication Design awards in May.
The second children's publication released was It's Alive! At the National Museum of Australia, a collection of stories from well-known Australian children's writers. Each story focuses on an object or theme from the collections. Teacher resources for It's Alive! are available on the Museum's website to encourage the book's use in classrooms.
The third children's publication accompanied the Outlawed! exhibition, and features cartoons by well-known children's illustrator Roland Harvey.
The Museum's Our Voices series of 27 curriculum-based books for primary schools, published by Rigby and released in February 2003, continued to have strong sales. By the end of 2003-2004, the number of individual publications sold from the series exceeded 43,600. To encourage teachers' use of the series, Museum staff conducted professional development workshops in most capital cities and several regional areas throughout Australia.
The series Aussie English for Beginners has enjoyed considerable media coverage and excellent sales since the release of the first title in 2002. To date, sales from the series have exceeded 11,000 copies. Australia Day 2004 saw the release of Aussie English for Beginners, Book Three, which focuses on Australian idiom. The series, based on a display in the Nation gallery, provides readers with a record of a Museum exhibition area as well as an insight into Australian identity and culture. A website version of Aussie English for Beginners is in development for release in 2004-2005.
In late 2003-2004 the Museum established the imprint of National Museum of Australia Press, to give the publishing program a sustainable identity within the general and academic publishing industries. It is envisaged that as the Museum's research output continues to grow, the Press will become a significant vehicle for its dissemination, both through print and electronic media.
The Museum's Library collects material in the areas of museum studies, conservation, Australian Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders, Australian history and the Australian environment. It currently holds more than 30,000 books, journals, photographs and audiovisual items. The Library is open to the public during business hours Monday to Friday.
In April 2004, the Museum's Library moved from offices in the suburb of Braddon to new onsite premises at Acton. The new location provides better access to the Library's collection for staff and the public.
Prior to the move, external usage for this financial year already had an increase of greater than 30 per cent, which was the target of the marketing plan developed in the previous year. Researchers from Australia and overseas used the Library's resources.
The Library continued to develop its general collection through a modest acquisition program of monographs and serials, with increasing emphasis given to the electronic delivery of documents and other resources.