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Introduction

The National Museum of Australia is one of the nation's major cultural institutions and home of the National Historical Collection. The Museum's exhibitions, collections, programs and research focus on the three inter-related themes of:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture
  • Australia's history and society since European settlement in 1788
  • the interaction of people with the environment.

These areas define the Museum's intellectual and conceptual framework, which is articulated to the public through the themes of land, nation and people.

Guiding the Museum's performance

The Museum's performance is guided by a set of legislative, public sector and organisational requirements.

The National Museum of Australia Act 1980 charges the Museum with the function of developing, preserving and exhibiting historical material of the Australian nation. It also specifies that the Museum should conduct and disseminate research and information about Australian history. (See Functions and powers of the National Museum of Australia at Appendix 2).

Essentially, these functions determine all aspects of the Museum's performance; the Government's performance targets, laid out in the annual Portfolio Budget Statements, shape how they are executed. These targets are achieved through work defined in two output groups and lead to the outcome that:

Australians have access to the National Museum's collections and public programs to encourage awareness and understanding of Australia's history and culture.

(Performance against Portfolio Budget Statements outcome and outputs is detailed on the following pages.)

For the Australian public, the Museum's vision statement captures the essence of the organisation's role:

Exploring the past, illuminating the present, imagining the future.

At operational level, the Museum's Strategic Plan outlines the organisation's key priorities and guides the activities of all Museum business units. The priorities for 2000-2003 were to:

  • enhance the Museum's reputation through strategic alliances
  • strengthen revenue opportunities
  • provide storage, care and access to the collection
  • extend access to the Museum
  • maximise use of technological infrastructure
  • develop a culture where customer satisfaction is the single most important criterion for success
  • invest in the Museum's people.

During the latter part of the year, the strategic plan for 2004-2007 was developed, for implementation from July 2004. The new strategic plan is detailed on page 63.

The reports that follow provide quantitative measurement of the Museum's performance against the Portfolio Budget Statements, and qualitative discussion of its achievements as a cultural institution.