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Create participatory programs to engage people in meaningful dialogue


  • Deliver Defining Moments in Australian History flagship products and conference.
  • Produce online content in association with major exhibition and programs.
  • Annual visitation to education and public programs over 129,050:
    • Deliver annual education programs to over 91,050 primary, secondary and tertiary students that meet the national curriculum and link to the National Historical Collection.
    • Over 38,000 annual interactions with tailored public and outreach programs for access, adults, families and children.


  • The Museum delivered Defining Moments in Australian History content and associated programs with three public events, an online conversation and a new graphic panel display.
  • The Museum produced online content for the exhibitions A History of the World in 100 Objects from the British Museum, Australian of the Year 2017, A Change Is Gonna Come and Evolution: Torres Strait Masks.
  • During 2016–17, participation in education and public programs was 293,434:
    • 88,500 participants in education programs (including 88,225 students who visited the Museum and 275 who participated in the Robot program).
    • 204,934 participants in public programs (including 414 non-school participants in the Robot program).


Defining Moments in Australian History

During 2016–17 activity associated with the Defining Moments in Australian History project continued. The project was launched in August 2014 and aims to stimulate public discussion about the events that have been of profound significance to Australians. This year, associated programming included three Defining Moments in Australian History panel discussions (on Australian sport, post-war immigration and the 1967 referendum) recorded in front of a live audience and broadcast on ABC RN and via audio on demand (see also Defining Moments in Australian History panel discussions). The Museum continued to produce commemorative plaques associated with the project, with a handover event held in Cooma on 19 March 2017 to mark the Snowy Mountains Hydro-Electric Scheme, one of the identified defining moments.

The continued development of the Defining Moments section of the Museum’s website has contributed to the growth in engagement with online audiences over the course of the year, receiving 366,404 page views, representing a 94 per cent increase over 2015–16. During 2017–18, an interactive Defining Moments in Australian History Discovery Wall will be introduced as part of the refurbishment of the Museum’s Main Hall.

Exhibition-related website content

The Exhibitions section of the Museum’s website provides content-rich pages created for all major exhibitions and projects. This year, the A History of the World in 100 Objects pages received over 321,058 page views. Overall, the Exhibitions section was the most visited area of the Museum’s website, with page views increasing by 43 per cent to 1,015,680. See also Museum website.

Education programs

Throughout the year, the Museum continued to deliver a range of education programs, including 18 facilitated programs that drew on the Museum’s collections and illuminated aspects of the Australian Curriculum, and an outreach program offering curriculum-relevant digital resources, videoconferencing and the Museum Robot program, which allowed the Museum to reach students across Australia.

Professional development sessions focusing on Indigenous culture and history, pedagogy relating to history teaching, and sessions based on the Australian Curriculum were conducted for more than 626 teachers and post-secondary learners.

Public programs

This year, 204,520 people participated in the wide range of public programs offered by the Museum.

Access programs

The Museum has a continuing commitment to providing access to its collections, exhibitions and programs for all Australians, including people with different levels of ability. Programming initiatives including music and art workshops, as well as ‘reminiscence’ workshops (both off- and on-site) for people living with dementia, and a festival day celebrating International Day of People with Disability.

Programs for adults

The Museum develops programs for adults with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds that highlight the collections, exhibitions and core business of the Museum in fresh and exciting ways. Programs include the Night at the Museum series for younger adults, seminars linked to Museum activities and research projects, concerts and a suite of other programs (see also Lead public discussion about ideas that matter in Australian life). In 2016 the Museum was a Foundation Partner in the Canberra Writers Festival. This included a full day of programming featuring Richard Glover, George Megalogenis, Karen Middleton and other prominent speakers. The day culminated in a sold-out session with philosopher AC Grayling, Charles Firth (of The Chaser), Katharine Murphy and others discussing the topic ‘Trump, Brexit and the populist moment’.

Families and children

Programs developed and delivered to families and children included school holiday Discovery Space programs themed to accompany the exhibitions on display, the Great Big Adventure festival in July 2016 and the Australia Day festival inspired by the A History of the World in 100 Objects exhibition.


Kspace is the Museum’s interactive adventure game, designed for children aged 5 to 12, in which participants create their own time-travelling robot and blast off to explore a mystery location in Australia’s past. Kspace is open daily to school groups and general visitors at specified times, and is a popular part of public programs such as Night at the Museum, drawing 87,560 participants in 2016–17.

Virtual reality experiences

More than 23,000 people have participated in the Museum’s virtual reality experiences, Sir David Attenborough’s First Life and Great Barrier Reef Dive, launched in December 2016.

Build relationships and engage with communities of interest related to our programs


  • Engage with online communities of interest across a broad range of topics and social media platforms:
    • 25,708 Facebook ‘likes’
    • 25,156 Twitter followers.
  • Continue to expand the Museum’s membership base by a 30 per cent increase in Friends membership (increase based on FY 2013–14 targets).
  • 10 per cent increase in combined value in Development income, based on FY 2015–16 targets.


  • The Museum exceeded its targets for connecting to online communities:
    • 55,314 Facebook ‘likes’ (115 per cent above target)
    • 37,125 Twitter followers (48 per cent above target).
  • Museum Friends memberships more than doubled to 2563, 92 per cent above target.
  • The combined value of Development income was on par with the 2015–16 performance.


Online communities

The Museum encourages engagement with its stories and collections through core social media channels while also experimenting on emerging channels. The Museum’s Facebook and Twitter followers increased significantly during 2016–17, with both performing well above target.

The Defining Moments and ‘On this day’ content performed well across all platforms, demonstrating our audience’s interest in key moments and historical anniversaries.

Museum Friends

Museum Friends is the membership program of the National Museum of Australia, offering unique monthly programs and special events that provide insights into the Museum’s operations and access to Museum staff and behind-the-scenes experiences. The Museum welcomed 2563 new and renewed memberships in 2016–17. The Mkids program was launched during the year, offering additional benefits to Friends with children.

Development income

During 2016–17, there was a 0.01 per cent decrease in the combined value of Development income. The Museum’s Development income includes funds received from grants, donations, partnerships and object donations. Cash donations grew 276 per cent on the previous financial year, achieved through a range of fundraising activities. The value of object donations decreased by 48 per cent on the previous financial year, a factor related to the unpredictable nature of gifting. The value of partnerships and sponsorships grew 88 per cent during the financial year while grants remained on par with the previous year.

Act as a cultural hub to connect relevant community groups and interests


  • Engage communities of interest, including remote and regional communities, through relevant and topical digital content.


  • Many online visitors engaged with the Museum through social media platforms, the Robot program and web content that promoted special events of 2016–17 including Australia Day Your Way (800 tweeted images curated with 40,295 impressions across the campaign).


Through its website, and other digital and social media platforms, the Museum is able to reach audiences unable to travel to Canberra. In 2016–17, the Museum engaged communities of interest through its online presence on social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, the Robot program, and through web content for Defining Moments in Australian History, and other special events including the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum and the 25th anniversary of the Mabo decision.

Australia Day Your Way campaign

This campaign aims to gather tweets from across Australia to give a picture of how we celebrate our national day. In 2017 the campaign received 40,295 total impressions on Twitter with over 800 tweets. Most of the activity on the website occurred between 7am and midnight on 26 January 2017, with another peak in audience numbers as international traffic picked up over the following day.

Mobile Robot Telepresence Education Program (the Robot program)

During 2016–17, a total of 689 people — 275 students and 414 other participants — took part in the Museum Robot program, which brings school students and other groups into the Museum through virtual tours and programs.

Empower staff to promote our professional expertise to external interests


  • Each division of the Museum was involved in the development of key partnerships with at least one external party to promote capacity-building and knowledge-sharing.


  • Each division of the Museum was engaged in capacity-building and knowledge-sharing through our professional relationships.


As well as maintaining and developing networks and relationships with researchers across Australia and internationally, the Museum maintains partnerships with key kindred bodies including Indigenous communities and organisations, major collectors, corporations and the university sector, with a number of Museum staff holding adjunct professorships at the Australian National University. Many of these important partnerships have been reported on elsewhere in this report (see especially Develop the best ideas, research and scholarship to underpin our programs). The wide range of organisations and partners the Museum collaborated with during the year included:


Association of American Indian Affairs
The British Museum
Humboldt University of Berlin
Ichihara Lakeside Museum
Kagawa Prefecture Museum
Kushiro City Art Museum
Muséum d’Histoire naturelle du Havre
National Museum of China
National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka
Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery
Singapore National Heritage Board
University of Amsterdam
University of Otago
The Vatican


Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
Australian Museum
Australian National Maritime Museum
Australian National University
Centre for Heritage and Museum Studies
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Department of Communications and the Arts
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Gab Titui Cultural Centre
Gur A Baradharaw Kod Torres Strait Sea and Land Council
Kimberley Aboriginal Law and Culture Centre
La Trobe University
Monash University
Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House
Museums Victoria
National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA)
National Trust of Australia
Ngarrindjeri Regional Authority
South Australian Maritime Museum
The Prince’s Charities Australia
Princess Cruises
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
Radio National (RN)
Reconciliation Australia
Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery
Torres Strait Regional Authority
University of Melbourne
Western Australian Museum

Other initiatives

The Museum has taken the initiative to develop a shared services hub for collecting agencies. A pilot program for the provision of a range of corporate services was established in July 2016, with the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House connecting to the Museum’s information technology (IT) network during the course of the year, and also receiving digital recordkeeping services. In the 2017 Federal Budget, the Australian Government announced funding of $8.9 million over three years from the Public Service Modernisation Fund to support the Museum’s expansion of the Cultural and Corporate Shared Services Centre (CCSSC). This will enable the Museum to expand its offerings of corporate and business services functions to other collecting and corporate institutions.

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