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Create internal and external experiences at Acton that attract and involve audiences


  • Annual visitation to permanent exhibitions over 484,000.
  • Open the First Australians gallery Welcome Space as part of the Museum’s permanent gallery renewal program. Commence Main Hall redevelopment as part of the Museum’s permanent gallery renewal program.
  • Commence Main Hall redevelopment as part of the Museum’s permanent gallery renewal program.
  • Begin modular redevelopment of the First Australians gallery as part of the Museum’s permanent gallery renewal program.
  • Redevelop Acton Peninsula and West Basin in partnership with Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Australian National University (ANU), Land Development Agency (LDA) and National Capital Authority (NCA):
    • Stage 1 of Museum Forecourt redevelopment
    • Launch Structure Plan in conjunction with Peninsula Partners.


  • Annual visitation to permanent exhibitions, including the permanent displays in the Main Hall, was 631,975, with 461,600 of these visitors proceeding through to the Museum’s main galleries.
  • The Welcome Space in the First Australians gallery opened to the public in December 2016, with an official launch in March 2017.
  • The Main Hall redevelopment project commenced and is on track for completion in 2017.
  • Modular redevelopment of the First Australians gallery was delayed.
  • The Museum continued to work with its partners on the redevelopment of Acton Peninsula and West Basin:
    • Stage 1 of the Museum Forecourt redevelopment project was completed, with positive feedback and audience engagement on the development proposal
    • The Acton Peninsula Precinct Draft Structure Plan was launched in May 2017, and the draft Museum Master Plan 2017–2030 developed.



Permanent galleries 452,947 423,691 436,496 472,748 631,975
Temporary exhibitions 73,413 57,304 83,314 189,802 232,915
National travelling exhibitions 85,186 127,326 1,246,185 503,771 589,548
Public programs and events 27,541 32,028 43,556 74,352 204,934
Schools 87,263 83,642 85,473 81,854 88,500
Functions/venue hire 1324 5154 12,854 18,637 23,918
TOTAL727,674 729,1451,907,8781,341,1641,771,790

First Australians gallery Welcome Space

The new First Australians gallery Welcome Space, developed with active involvement of the Ngambri, Ngunawal and Ngunnawal communities and members of the Museum’s Indigenous Reference Group during the consultation and development phases of the project, was launched on 15 March 2017.

The Welcome Space is the primary entry to the First Australians gallery and is organised into six zones that reflect the visitor’s experiential journey through the space: ‘Arrival’, ‘Place’, ‘Pause’, ‘Engage’, ‘Interact’ and ‘Connect’. The design of the Welcome Space allows visitors to experience active cultural protocols, and provides an innovative approach to cross-cultural engagement at the Museum, using digital technology.

Main Hall

The redevelopment of the Main Hall commenced in this reporting period, with an estimated completion date early in the next financial year. The refurbished space will complement the existing architecture by working with the architectural geometry of the space. The finished design will enable visitors to orient themselves and plan their journey, with new interactive multimedia, lighting, furniture and signage. The three key collecting themes of the Museum will be represented in the display of a selection of large objects, and new display cases will accommodate a variety of objects from across the Museum’s collection.

First Australians gallery modular development

The program to redevelop the permanent galleries, including the First Australians gallery, was formally established and a range of key strategies and plans to underpin the program were completed. Redevelopment of the First Australians gallery has been rescheduled to commence in 2017–18.

Launch of Draft Structure Plan

The National Capital Authority (NCA) formally launched the Acton Peninsula Precinct Draft Structure Plan at the Museum on 2 May 2017, inviting public comment and input. The draft plan was developed collectively by the NCA, AIATSIS, ANU, the LDA and the Museum as a guide for future development and management of the Acton Peninsula Precinct. At a broader level, the plan provides guidance for assessment of projects submitted for works approval under the National Capital Plan.

Museum Master Plan

The Museum is developing a Master Plan for the Museum’s future until the year 2030. The Museum’s Master Plan will sit underneath the Acton Peninsula Precinct Structure Plan in outlining possible futures for Acton Peninsula. Two Museum projects currently underway dovetail into the Master Plan’s vision: the Forecourt project, and the Main Hall project.

Museum Forecourt redevelopment

The Museum has engaged the building’s original architects, Ashton Raggatt MacDougall (ARM), and landscape architects Taylor Cullity Lethlean (TCL) to redesign and reinvigorate the spaces immediately adjacent to the front entry of the main Museum building.

The new design will create a ‘sensory adventure’ for visitors, through the use of native garden plantings, shade and seating, and will enable the space to be used for a variety of purposes. One of the key aspects of the project is that all visitors to the site can develop an understanding of and experience the concept of a Welcome to Country.

The Museum is on track to commence construction on the project in early 2018.

Develop community and recreational places inside and outside the Museum building


  • Develop content for Discovery Centre.


  • The Discovery Centre project has commenced, and a survey of options for a new Discovery Centre has been completed.


A discovery centre for the Museum

The proposed Discovery Centre is part of the Museum’s broader gallery redevelopment project. Its timing depends on the overall scheduling of the larger program, and has been delayed due to scheduling changes for the First Australians gallery Welcome Space project.

Work has commenced on research and scoping activities for a discovery and visible collections centre. The first stage of delivery will be a ‘proof of concept’ for completion in December 2018. The second stage will be a purpose-built facility to be completed by 2021.

Establish programs that connect the Museum and its site to Canberra’s city centre


  • Following the launch of the Structure Plan, the City to Lake project team will seek funding to drive the project forward.


  • The Acton Peninsula Precinct Draft Structure Plan was launched in May 2017, with further work on the plan


The National Capital Authority (NCA) launched the Acton Peninsula Precinct Draft Structure Plan on 2 May 2017. Following consideration and incorporation of feedback from the public consultation phase, the NCA will finalise the Structure Plan, including future funding possibilities, for incorporation into the National Capital Plan.

Strengthen relationships with AIATSIS, ANU, National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), NCA and the NewActon precinct


  • Deliver joint program with NFSA under MoU 2015–18.


  • The Museum and NFSA partnered in the delivery of joint programming for Reconciliation Week (27 May – 3 June) and NAIDOC Week (2–9 July).


Strengthening relationships

In 2015 the Museum entered into an MoU with its near neighbour, NFSA, to work on common programs and projects that are mutually beneficial.

This year the Museum undertook a range of joint activities with NFSA, including public programs related to the 1967 referendum and 1992 Mabo anniversaries. Work in the next period of the agreement will focus on school program partnerships.

The Museum has also strengthened relationships with its NewActon precinct partners through the collaborative development of the Acton Peninsula Precinct Draft Structure Plan (see Create internal and external experiences)

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