Skip to content
  • Open today 9am–5pm
  • Free general admission

We are no longer updating this page and it is not optimised for mobile devices.

You are in site section: About

Our visitors and audiences

Our visitors and audiences

A colour photograph of one of the windows at the National Museum of Australia. On the window have been drawn colourful insects and other animals. The drawings are in a cartoon style. On the window is the reflection of part of Lake Burley Griffin and some hills in the distance.
The Museum's Discovery Space in the main Hall is a popular venue for children's programs.

Visitation for 2009–10 was 4,171,904 (including 880,030 visitors to Acton and travelling exhibitions and 3,291,874 online visitors) and exceeded the set target of 3.27 million identified in the 2009–10 Portfolio Budget Statements (PBS). The year's visitation was marked by:

  • a change in visitor counting methodology to thermal imaging counters, which allow for more accurate recording. The thermal image counters were installed in the permanent galleries and the temporary exhibition gallery in July 2009.
  • a slight decline in visitors to permanent galleries, which reflects an overall decline in visitation to Canberra
  • a substantial reduction in visitation to travelling exhibitions due to the smaller number of major exhibitions travelling in 2009–10
  • a record number of school students visiting the Museum
  • a better than expected result for functions and venue hire by external users in the context of the economic downturn.

Web visitation has grown from 2,533,138 last year to 3,291,874. This growth is due to the continued addition of content including features on Indigenous culture and more detailed information relating to the Museum's collection.

"Visitation was 4,171,904 and exceeded the set target of 3.27 million."

Visitation numbers (excluding the web), 2001–10

Financial year


2001–02 903,400
2002–03 825,000
2003–04 820,200
2004–05 666,200
2005–06 770,601
2006–07 945,210
2007–08 1,007,856
2008–09 941,361
2009–10 880,030

Monthly web visitation figures, 2009–10


Total visitation

July 235,305
August 290,584
September 287,507
October 292,885
November 276,375
December 200,024
January 230,356
February 268,158
March 341,144
April 280,531
May 315,100
June 273,905
Total 2009–10 3,291,874

Breakdown of national visitation numbers (excluding the web), 2005–10







Permanent exhibitions 428,123 418,790 393,141 366,541 489,888
Temporary exhibitions 91,101 105,710 89,348 95,417 91,464
Travelling exhibitions 63,762 248,641 372,407 344,512 163,388
Public programs and events 69,061 53,097 33,297 29,649 28,166
Schools 83,780 86,444 87,266 86,457 88,981
venue hire
34,234 32,528 32,397 18,785 18,143
Total 770,601 945,210 1,007,856 941,361 880,030

Program highlights for visiting schools

The Museum ran a number of new and innovative programs for visiting schools in the reporting period. Of particular note were two programs offered to schools in conjunction with two of the Museum's temporary exhibitions. The first, entitled 'Water wonders', was a program designed to exploit the education potential of the Water: H2O=Life exhibition. This hands-on program was well attended by schools with almost 3000 students taking part. A second program, based on the exhibition From Little Things Big Things Grow, encouraged students to consider the issue of Indigenous rights and was also well-attended.

In addition, the Museum modified a number of its pre-school to year 4 programs in an attempt to attract more local schools. This was successfully undertaken with school numbers for this age group significantly increasing in 2009–10 from 3506 in 2008–09 to 4114 in 2009–10. This increase was also in part due to the redevelopment of Indigenous programs for younger students.

Overall, 99 per cent of schools were satisfied with the programs provided by the Museum. When asked to evaluate the programs, teachers commented that they appreciated and enjoyed the programs' 'hands on' nature, describing them as 'engaging, child-centred and positive'.

Number of paid versus teacher-guided student visits*, 2009–10
*Paid visits are facilitated by a Museum staff member. Teacher-guided visits are supervised by the accompanying teacher.

A column graph indicating the number of paid versus teacher-guided student visits, 2009–10. (Note: paid visits are facilitated by a Museum staff member. Teacher-guided visits are supervised by the accompanying teacher.) Paid programs: Jul 2007, Aug 3544, Sep 4109, Oct 2278, Nov 2538, Dec 488, Jan 35, Feb 820, Mar 3128, Apr 1310, May 2590, Jun 3340. Teacher-guided: Jul 4587, Aug 8808, Sep 10,234, Oct 6591, Nov 7760, Dec 1499, Jan 188, Feb 1569, Mar 5735, Apr 2238, May 6166, Jun 7329. Total: Jul 6594, Aug 12352, Sep 14343, Oct 8869, Nov 10298, Dec 1987, Jan 223, Feb 2389, Mar 8863, Apr 3548, May 8756, Jun 10669.

Number of primary versus secondary students, 2009–10
A column graph indicating the number of primary versus secondary students, 2009-10. Primary: Jul 3931, Aug 12352, Sep 14343, Oct 8869, Nov 10298, Dec 1987, Jan 223, Feb 2389, Mar 8863, Apr 3548, May 8756, Jun 10669. Secondary: Jul 2663, Aug 4141, Sept 3369, Oct 2725, Nov 2639, Dec 842, Jan 158, Feb 540, Mar 3431, Apr 1103, May 2559, Jun 2203. Total: Jul 6594, Aug 8211, Sep 10974, Oct 6144, Nov 7659, Dec 1145, Jan 65, Feb 1849, Mar 5432, Apr 2445, May 6197, Jun 8466.

Number of schools visiting per state, 2009–10
A column graph indicating the number of schools visiting per state, 2009–10. ACT 373, NSW 1047, VIC 319, QLD 258, SA 94, WA 101, NT 12, TAS 31.

Percentage of school bookings per state, 2009–10
A doughnut chart indicating the percentage of school bookings per state, 2009–10. NSW 46.84 per cent, VIC 14.27 per cent, QLD 11.54 per cent, SA 4.25 per cent, WA 4.51 per cent, NT 0.53 per cent, TAS 1.38 per cent, ACT 16.68 per cent.

Comparison of student visitation numbers, 2002–10

Financial year

Total visitation

2002–03 81,737
2003–04 85,141
2004–05 82,765
2005–06 83,780
2006–07 86,444
2007–08 87,266
2008–09 86,457
2009–10 88,891

Audience and visitor research

The Museum actively seeks comments from visitors by conducting exit interviews, commissioning audience research and inviting visitors to provide written feedback through feedback forms. Informal comments are also noted by visitor services hosts and public programs staff. The Museum enters visitor feedback data into a database that enables the analysis of visitor demographics, attitudes and behaviour over time. The Museum has been conducting exit interviews since opening in 2001 and this year conducted interviews with 400 visitors, increasing the total number of interviews to 19,000.

Visitors aged 51 years and over continued to be the most strongly represented and, in 2009–10, 33 per cent of visitors were from Canberra or its close neighbour, Queanbeyan; 58 per cent were from elsewhere in Australia, in particular Sydney and regional New South Wales; and 9 per cent were from overseas. The proportion of repeat visitors was 50 per cent overall. Thirty-seven per cent of visitors interviewed during the year had visited the Museum three or more times.

Small-scale evaluations with visitors were also undertaken for programs such as NAIDOC Week; the Barks, Birds & Billabongs symposium; and exhibitions such as Water: H2O=Life and Voyages of the Pacific Ancestors: Vaka Moana. These evaluations, in conjunction with those undertaken at a number of family festivals, provided valuable feedback that is used to shape future programs and exhibitions.

Return to Top