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

The National Museum of Australia Act 1980 (the Museum Act) defines the broad functions and activities of the Museum. This Act established the Museum as a Commonwealth statutory authority and, along with the National Museum of Australia Regulations 2000, defines the Museum’s role, functions and powers.

Functions and powers

The functions and powers of the Museum are set out in Sections 5, 6 and 7 of the Museum Act. Section 5 of the Museum Act specifies requirements for:

  • a gallery of Aboriginal Australia to form part of the Museum
  • the performance of functions in relation to the gallery. Section 6 of the Museum Act states that the functions of the Museum are:

(a) to develop and maintain a national collection of historical material
(b) to exhibit, or to make available for exhibition by others, historical material from the National Historical Collection or historical material that is otherwise in the possession of the Museum

(baa) to exhibit material, whether in written form or in any other form, that relates to Australia’s past, present and future
(ba) from time to time as the occasion requires, to exhibit, by itself or in collaboration with others, in Australia or elsewhere, material, whether in written form or in any other form and whether relating to Australia or to a foreign country

(c) to conduct, arrange for or assist in research into matters pertaining to Australian history
(d) to disseminate information relating to Australian history and information relating to the Museum and its functions
(e) to develop and implement sponsorship, marketing and other commercial activities relating to the Museum’s functions.

Section 6 also requires the Museum to use every endeavour to make the most advantageous use of the national collection in the national interest.

Section 7 of the Museum Act provides that the Museum has power to do all things necessary or convenient to be done for or in connection with the performance of its functions.

Resource management framework

The primary piece of Commonwealth resource management legislation governing the Museum is the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (the PGPA Act). This Act establishes the guidelines of governance and accountability for public resources, with an emphasis on planning, performance and reporting. It requires the Museum’s Council, as the accountable authority of the Museum, to prepare and give an annual report on the Museum’s activities for the period to the Museum’s responsible minister, for presentation to the parliament. The Museum’s annual report must comply with the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014 (the PGPA Rule).

The Public Service Act 1999 covers the powers of the Director of the Museum in relation to the management of human resources.

Return to Top