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The National Museum of Australia is one of the nation's major cultural institutions and home of the National Historical Collection. The Museum's exhibitions, collections, programs and research focus on the three inter-related themes of:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture
  • Australia's history and society since European settlement in 1788
  • the interaction of people with the environment.

These areas define the Museum's intellectual and conceptual framework, which is articulated to the public through the themes of land, nation and people.

Guiding performance

The Museum's performance is guided by a set of legislative, public sector and organisational requirements.

The National Museum of Australia Act 1980 charges the Museum with the function of developing, preserving and exhibiting historical material of the Australian nation. It also specifies that the Museum should conduct and disseminate research and information about Australian history. (See Functions and powers of the National Museum of Australia at Appendix 2.)

These functions determine all aspects of the Museum's performance; the Government's performance targets, laid out in the annual Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS), shape how they are executed. Performance targets are achieved through work defined in two output groups and lead to the outcome that:

Australians have access to the National Museum's collections and public programs to encourage awareness and understanding of Australia's history and culture.

(Performance against PBS outcome and outputs is detailed on the following pages.)

For the Australian public, the Museum's vision statement captures the essence of the organisation's role:

A recognised world-class museum exploring Australia's past, illuminating the present, imagining the future.

At the operational level, the Museum's Strategic Plan outlines the organisation's key priorities and guides the activities of all Museum business units. The priorities for 2004-2007 are to:

  • enhance exhibitions, programs and services
  • care for the National Historical Collection
  • sustain research and scholarship activity
  • engage national audiences
  • strengthen business processes
  • enhance staffing and workplace development
  • augment asset development and planning
  • strengthen resource base.

The reports that follow provide quantitative measurement of the Museum's performance against the PBS, and qualitative discussion of its achievements as a cultural institution and in relation to the Strategic Plan.