The National Museum of Australia is explicitly charged in its legislation with developing, preserving and exhibiting the social and environmental history of the Australian nation. These guiding principles have been consistently applied since the Museum's establishment by the Government in 1980. With these principles in mind, the Museum aims to:
- be a social history museum
- be a modern museum, using new technologies, display techniques and the latest research
- reach the widest possible Australian audience
- stimulate research and debate
- address in an integrated way its three themes of land, nation and people
- give a special place to the history of Indigenous Australians.
The National Museum of Australia brings Australia's stories together from a national perspective. By exploring the nation's history and revealing the stories of ordinary and extraordinary Australians, the Museum promotes exploration of knowledge and ideas, and provides both a dynamic forum for discussion and a place for reflection about issues of importance. This emphasis is clearly evident, for example, in the Museum's new Collections Development Framework, which aims to build a collection that reflects the diversity of Australia's heritage and cultures, and in the Museum's permanent and temporary exhibitions, which tell the stories of Australians.
In fulfilling its national role and by integrating its three core themes of land, nation and people, the Museum is committed to sharing and communicating knowledge and providing lifelong learning experiences for those who visit the Museum or use its programs.
An extensive range of collaborations and relationships also support the achievement of Museum objectives. This engagement broadly includes formal and informal relationships with academic and cultural institutions at national and international levels, government departments, schools, community groups and individuals.