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Chair's letter of transmittal

Portraitsof Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield (left) and Mr David Jones
Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield      Mr David Jones

Senator the Hon Mitch Fifield
Minister for the Arts, Minister for Communications
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Dear Minister

On behalf of the Council of the National Museum of Australia, I am pleased to submit our annual report for the financial year ended 30 June 2017. The Council is responsible for preparing and giving an annual report on the Museum’s activities to you, as the minister responsible for the Museum, in accordance with Section 46 of the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The National Museum of Australia Annual Report 2016–17 has been prepared in conformity with the requirements for annual reports for corporate Commonwealth entities approved on behalf of the Parliament by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit on 2 May 2016, and prescribed in the Public Governance Performance and Accountability Rule 2014.

In accordance with a resolution of the Museum’s Council, passed on 17 August 2017, the members of Council accept this report as being a fair and accurate representation of the organisation’s performance during the 2016–17 financial year. The Council acknowledges the National Museum’s achievements over 2016–17 and its continued progress against the Strategic Plan 2014–18.

During the course of the year, the Museum delivered an engaging program of exhibitions, featuring A History of the World in 100 Objects from the British Museum; Freewheeling: Cycling in Australia; Kaninjaku: Stories from the Canning Stock Route; A Change Is Gonna Come; and Evolution: Torres Strait Masks. With over 178,000 visits recorded to the Acton site, A History of the World in 100 Objects has been the Museum’s most popular exhibition to date. The Museum was delighted to be able to celebrate the milestone of one-million global visits to this blockbuster exhibition while it was on display in Canberra. Boosted by the strong performance of this exhibition, and a renewed focus on developing fundraising and commercial opportunities to grow and consolidate its revenue base, the Museum has achieved an impressive financial result for the year, with 20 per cent of its income generated from sources other than government appropriations.

The Museum has sought to deliver programming that encourages conversations about Australia’s past, present and future, with public discussions and events held in association with major exhibitions, including A Change Is Gonna Come, an exhibition that commemorated the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum and the 25th anniversary of the High Court Mabo decision. The Museum also continues to explore new ways of engaging with audiences, including through social media initiatives and its wide-reaching travelling exhibitions program.

This year has also seen the Museum creating opportunities to maximise its public value and explore new ways of doing business. This was recognised in the 2017 Federal Budget through the Australian Government’s generous support of the Museum’s initiative to establish a Cultural and Corporate Shared Services Centre (CCSSC). Through the CCSSC, the Museum will provide shared corporate and business services functions to other collecting institutions, creating efficiencies that will enable resources to be directed to programs and services.

Looking outwards, the Museum has also pursued meaningful and long-lived international partnerships, building relationships with a number of overseas institutions across a range of areas including exhibitions, research, repatriation activities, skills exchange and cultural diplomacy. As part of its commitment to sharing Australian stories internationally, the Museum developed and toured the exhibition One Road: Aboriginal Art from Australia’s Deserts to four venues in Japan. The Museum is also taking a lead role in the Australia–Singapore Arts Group, with the Director of the National Museum of Australia appointed as co-chair, together with Ms Rosa Daniel, CEO of the National Arts Council of Singapore. The establishment of the group in May 2016 provides an exciting opportunity to strengthen relationships and cultural cooperation between the two nations.

I would like to express the Council’s appreciation of your continued support for the Museum this year, and that of the Department of Communications and the Arts. Finally, all members of the Council join me in congratulating the Director and staff on the Museum’s outstanding performance in 2016–17.

Mr David Jones
Chair of Council
August 2017