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Strategic Plan 2014-18

National Museum of Australia

Where our stories come alive   

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National Museum of Australia. Where our stories come alive. Strategic Plan 2014-18.

The National Museum of Australia's mission

The Museum brings to life the rich and diverse stories of Australia through compelling objects, ideas and programs.

A view of the interior of the Museum's Hall.
Photo: George Serras.

The Museum’s role

We are passionate about the Museum’s role in the life of the nation and its responsibilities to the Australian people. Understanding where we have come from is fundamental to meeting present and future challenges.

The Museum was established by the National Museum of Australia Act 1980 to collect, document, research and communicate the history of Australia, focusing on three key themes:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures
  • Australian society and history since 1788
  • People and the environment
Museum visitors in the Garden of Australian Dreams.
Photo: Paul Chapman.

What the Museum does

We make it our business to:

  • develop, preserve, exhibit and make accessible a national collection of historical objects and digital assets that inspire and engage people
  • treat visitors as participants in our work, connecting their experiences and expertise with the Museum’s people, collection and ideas
  • conduct innovative programs and events relating to the country’s history and society that educate and entertain
  • create absorbing resources and programs for students and teachers in Australian schools and universities
  • research and communicate ideas about Australia’s past to stimulate public discussion and debate
  • extract the most from the Museum’s diverse assets and resources to maximise our public value.

We commit to:

  • serving the public, nationally and internationally
  • engaging and communicating respectfully
  • promoting accessibility for all people
  • being innovative and organisationally efficient
  • creating a supportive and inclusive work culture
  • excelling in everything we do.
A Museum educator with visiting school students viewing an illuminated map.
Photo: Lannon Harley.


More than nine million people have visited the Museum's Canberra site.

Our national and international touring exhibitions have captivated more than three million visitors in major capital cities and regional, rural and remote communities.

The Museum's public programs and events have entertained more than 600,000 participants.

More than one million school children have participated in supported school visits and programs using highly awarded curriculum resources.

We have developed and presented 89 exhibitions, featuring great objects from Australian and international collections.

We are carefully developing and preserving a collection for the nation that is now worth more than $300 million.

We have counted more than 30 million page visits to the Museum's website, which boasts content across a wide range of Australian history and experience.

We have developed exhibitions and partnerships with leading cultural organisations in Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, Germany, Canada, the South Pacific, the Vatican, China, Britain, France, the United States of America, Korea, Singapore and Japan.

Strategic priorities 2014–18

Two children playing the Museum game on an iPad in an exhibition gallery.
Photo: George Serras.

Take the lead

The National Museum of Australia takes the lead role in researching, documenting and expressing the nation’s history. We are committed to organisational excellence, and innovative and contemporary approaches that draw public attention to our work.


  • lead public discussion about the ideas that matter in Australian life
  • prepare the Museum for a world that is ‘living digitally’
  • connect with academic, social, commercial, physical and online communities
  • establish meaningful and long-lived local, national and international partnerships

Achieved by 2018 

  • a 50 per cent increase in public awareness of the Museum nationally 
  • three substantial program partnerships with international organisations, with at least one in Asia 
  • live online engagement across Australia and the Asia–Pacific, with 10,000 participants annually
  • five million annual page views of the Museum’s website
  • mobile device content delivery and engagement throughout the Museum
  • three new interactive or multimedia experiences at the Museum 
  • an online version of Kspace for remote users and participants
Two glove-encased hands hold the folds of a red skirt on a mannequin.
Photo: Lannon Harley.

Cherish our stories

The Museum’s collection is a rich resource for explaining the forces that have formed modern Australia. We affirm the value and diversity of the nation’s history and experience through our work as storytellers and custodians.


  • bring the stories of Australia to life through innovative exhibitions and programs
  • ensure our collections are safe and accessible, physically and digitally, for all time
  • develop the best ideas, research and scholarship to underpin our programs
  • create online collections information and access to enhance public engagement

Achieved by 2018

  • temporary and touring exhibition programs that promote our collection and expertise, with 250,000 visitors annually
  • 80 per cent of the National Historical Collection stored in accordance with appropriate museum standards
  • a research centre that supports organisational outcomes, including exhibitions, conferences, programs and publishing
  • 46 per cent of the Museum’s collection available online via a collections search function with reliable, discoverable information that promotes public participation
  • 90 per cent of the Museum’s collection with a basic digital record
Curators working with the Canning Stock Route collection at Black Swan Theatre, Perth.
Photo: Tim Acker, 2009.

Listen and act

The Museum puts audiences and visitors at the centre of all its work. We commit to ongoing ‘two-way’ engagement with communities of interest outside our walls, and value their role, expertise and interest in our success.


  • create participatory programs to engage people in meaningful dialogue 
  • build relationships and engage with communities of interest related to our programs
  • empower staff to promote our professional expertise to external interests 
  • act as a cultural hub to connect relevant community groups and interests

Achieved by 2018

  • more than 145,000 participants involved in our schools and public programs annually
  • strong engagement with external interests that doubles membership of the Museum Friends 
  • each core theme engaged with at least one relevant external community of interest
  • distribution reach of the Museum’s e-newsletter doubled 
  • a six-fold increase in the Museum’s social media engagement
A band performing in the Museum's Hall.
Photo: Diego Zambrano.

See us first

The Museum’s creative form and stunning lakeside site make it a ‘must-see’ Canberra destination. We invest in our contemporary architecture and creative exhibitions and programs to deliver unique, distinctive experiences for our visitors.


  • create internal and external experiences at Acton that attract and involve audiences
  • strengthen relationships with AIATSIS, the Australian National University, the National Film and Sound Archive, the National Capital Authority and the NewActon precinct
  • develop community and recreational places inside and outside the Museum building
  • establish programs that connect the Museum and its site to Canberra’s city centre

Achieved by 2018

  • an established site master-plan for the Acton Peninsula with the support of AIATSIS, the Australian National University and the National Capital Authority that addresses future needs
  • improved access and public amenity on the Acton Peninsula
  • a redeveloped Museum forecourt and a plan for the display and interpretation of objects outside the Museum
  • an active gallery redevelopment plan with one major renewal completed
  • an actively programmed Discovery Centre linked to the work of the Museum and our collections
  • annual visitation of 650,000 to the Museum’s permanent galleries
Museum staff installing a large Griffin puppet in the Landmarks gallery.
Photo: Damian MacDonald.

Work smarter

A creative culture that seeks to exploit future opportunities requires efficient organisation and processes. We are focused on maximising the potential of our people, assets and financial resources to deliver the best possible outcomes.


  • streamline business processes and systems in a drive for organisational efficiency
  • establish evaluation, benchmarking and evidence-based decision-making to plan and manage performance 
  • develop staff flexibility, agility and resilience to deal with future challenges 
  • increase own-source income and manage our financial resources sustainably
  • create a safe, open and collaborative environment that is a pleasure to work in

Achieved by 2018 

  • integrated business planning and project management systems that relate directly to performance
  • a formative and summative visitor evaluation program incorporated into development of new exhibitions
  • a 75 per cent increase in own-source income through commercial activities and development
  • demonstrated improvements in staff amenity and safety at the Museum’s Mitchell and Acton sites
  • an integrated workforce development plan that addresses future needs for skills and capabilities by investing in staff
  • compliance with all relevant government procedures and policies, where applicable
A young girl painting a picture.
Photo: Lannon Harley.