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Permanent galleries

Old New Land: Australia's People and Environment

The Old New Land gallery presents an environmental history of Australia. It examines the stories of Australian attitudes to the environment, looking at the relationship of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to the land and the adaptation of settlers from Britain, Europe and Asia to the continent's diverse environment. The gallery also explores the personal and emotional attachments of people to the great range of Australian landscapes and places.

New objects from the National Historical Collection installed during the past year relate to a range of themes and stories represented in the gallery and include:

  • an echidna sculpture, replacing a loan from the National Gallery of Australia
  • a pituri bag, replacing a loan from the University of Queensland
  • trout flies used on the Thredbo River by the Rutledge family of the Gidleigh property.

In the 'Biological invasion' module, historic footage of rabbit eradication measures will be installed which will give visitors a graphic insight into the wars waged against this notorious pest.

Horizons: The Peopling of Australia since 1788

The Horizons gallery explores the reasons why people came to Australia, from the convict period through to the present day. It includes materials related to the administration of the nation's migration programs, and the personal mementos and effects of migrants who have come to these shores.

Strengthened by a significant range of new exhibits installed in the previous year, Horizons has been a focus for host talks on the 'Encounters' and 'Springfield' modules in 2006–07. Object changeovers in the course of the year have refreshed the gallery and enriched its representation of more than two centuries of Australian settlement and migration. Next year, Horizons will be replaced by the new Australian Journeys gallery.

Nation: Symbols of Australia

The Nation gallery explores Australian history and culture through the lens of national symbols, both official and popular. Two new displays were commissioned in the gallery and a range of object-for-object changeovers were undertaken during the course of the year.

One new exhibit explores the use of Australian native plant species for food. 'Native harvest' documents the development of the macadamia nut industry, and ways in which the Alice Springs Aboriginal community has drawn on traditional knowledge to gather and market bush foods. A second exhibit on the history of dairying in Australia completes the renewal of the 'Feeding the nation' module.

At the centre of the gallery, the display 'Australia's own car', documenting the development of the Holden motor car in the post-Second World War era, was enhanced by the addition of newly acquired Holden prototype hubcaps. Other changeover objects installed in the gallery this year include a ceramic 'Norm' who settled comfortably into his couch in the 'Life. Be in it.™' exhibit. The module 'Sport: A national obsession?' was updated with a new netball display, based on a recent targeted collecting project about the sport. In 2009, Nation will be replaced by the new Creating a Country gallery, as part of the Collections and Gallery Development Plan.

Eternity: Stories from the Emotional Heart of Australia

The Eternity gallery examines the lives of 50 Australians, famous and not famous, living and dead. The gallery uses these stories to highlight larger moments, movements and events in Australian history. The themes of the gallery are: joy, hope, passion, mystery, thrill, loneliness, fear, devotion, separation and chance.

This year new stories in the gallery included:

  • Junius Schomberg, an Anglican missionary based at St Paul's on Moa Island in the Torres Strait in the 1920s and 1930s
  • Mary Card, designer of crochet patterns, who became deaf in later life
  • Tim Sharp, an artist with autism, who draws to overcome the separation he feels from society
  • Marie Byles, English immigrant, conservationist and bushwalker, Buddhist and the first practising female solicitor in New South Wales
  • Mary Hamm, a woman whose hope for a family led her to adopt three Aboriginal children during the 1950s and 1960s
  • Sir Littleton Ernest Groom, barrister, politician and Speaker of the Commonwealth House of Representatives between 1901 and 1936.

Many of the stories in the Eternity gallery are made possible by generous loans from the people featured in the stories. Ben Lee, an Australian musician who was discovered at the age of 13 and has since become a successful international recording artist, has been added to the theme of Chance, for which he has loaned his first guitar. Another new story in Eternity features a doll designed and loaned by Jenny Kee, an artist who draws on Australian fauna and flora for her colourful designs. The gallery's 'Your story' video booths, in which visitors can contribute a story of their own lives to the exhibition, continued to capture moving stories from visitors. Eternity also underwent an upgrade to improve its technology and graphical elements towards the end of the financial year.

Image on left: Tim Sharp (centre), with his mother Judy and brother Sam in the Eternity gallery. Image on right: A visitor seated at a computer in the Eternity gallery.
Above left: Tim Sharp (centre), with his mother Judy and brother Sam. Tim's story, of an artist with autism, has been added to the Museum's Eternity gallery. Above right: The Eternity gallery's 'Your story' allows visitors to contribute their own stories to the Museum.

First Australians: Gallery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (The Gallery of First Australians)

The Gallery of First Australians represents the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Australia as required by section 5 of the National Museum of Australia Act 1980, incorporating historical collections and exhibitions.

To improve audience understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture, the Gallery of First Australians presents stories, objects and images that explore experiences from time immemorial through colonisation to contemporary Australian life.

This year saw enhancements to the existing exhibits with inclusion of new material on community connections to land and sea, and caring for country. The upgrading of these exhibits brought improvements in exhibition content and interpretation, visitor circulation, and relations between the Museum and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community groups.

Gallery objects removed and installed

Gallery

Objects removed

Objects installed

Old New Land

16

11

Nation

92

217

Horizons

12

9

Eternity

20

25

First Australians

66

120

Total

206

382