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The year at a glance

Highlights of the year

The Museum's performance this year was outstanding with highlights including:

  • record numbers to our exhibitions and programs at the Museum and 11 exhibitions that travelled around Australia and to Japan
  • substantial expansion in numbers accessing the National Historical Collection through an enhanced publications program and website
  • a significant increase in scholarly and research activity
  • the opening of the refurbished Circa revolving theatre.
A painting in pastel colours of yellows, pinks, blues and greens displayed in landscape orientation is on the left side of the image; nine Japanese viewers range along the right side of the image. One of the viewers in the background of the image holds a camera above their head.
Visitors at the Utopia: The Genius of Emily Kngwarreye exhibition in Tokyo, Japan, May 2008. Photo: Sonja Balaga.

Achievements against agreed outcomes and outputs

The National Museum of Australia is a statutory authority within the Australian Government Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts portfolio. The Australian Government funds the Museum to achieve an agreed outcome through a series of outputs and associated performance indicators, as specified in the annual Portfolio Budget Statement (PBS). The Museum's outcome is:

Australians have access to the National Museum's collections and public programs to encourage awareness and understanding of Australia's history and culture.
(National Museum of Australia, Portfolio Budget Statement, 2007–08)

Outcome: Financial summary, measured against PBS

The price of outputs was $47,979,000 (anticipated $48,759,000). Departmental appropriations were $40,764,000 (anticipated $40,952,000) and revenue from other sources was $7,386,000 (anticipated $7,807,000).

This image is shot from behind with two people viewing an Aboriginal dot painting in ochre colours. All of the light in the image is on the painting; both people are in silhouette with only their outlines visible, except that the man who is on the left is gesturing towards the painting and his hands are in the light.
Visitors at Papunya Painting: Out of the Desert admiring Tjunyinkya (1977) by Johnny Scobie Tjapanangka and Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula.

Outcome: Performance summary, measured against PBS

Relevance of acquisitions

The target of 100 per cent for the proportion of acquisitions acquired in accordance with the Collection Development Framework was achieved.

Accessibility of collections and programs

The target of 1,150,000 for the number of visitors or users of Museum exhibitions and programs (including web) was exceeded (1,007,856 visitors or users and 1,521,926 web visitors: a total achievement of 2,529,782).

The extent to which awareness and understanding of Australia's history and culture is increased

The target of 75 per cent for the proportion of visitors and users who indicated the Museum's exhibitions and public programs contributed to a new or different awareness or perspective on Australia's history or culture was exceeded (81 per cent achieved).

Output Group 1.1: Collection development and management — Financial summary, measured against PBS

The price of Output 1.1 was $7,628,000 (anticipated $12,220,000). Departmental appropriations were $9,003,000 (anticipated $9,050,000) and revenue from other sources was $1,244,000 (anticipated $3,170,000).

Output Group 1.1: Collection development and management — Performance summary, measured against PBS

Quality

The estimate for the percentage (75 per cent) of the National Historical Collection being packed or stored at, or above, appropriate museum standards was achieved.

Quantity

The Museum acquired 113 collections as part of the National Historical Collection. The number of conservation treatments completed was 2289, against an estimate of 1000 treatments. Against the anticipation that documentation for 10,000 collection items would be made available on the Museum's website, 8466 were made accessible.

Seven people sit in a darkened room in the front seats of a theatre. There are 18 screens ranged in three rows with a variety of images and a series of slanted light areas on the ceiling. On the centre screen is the word 'circa' in white text on a black background.
Circa was redeveloped to provide visitors with a fresh and engaging introduction to the Museum.

Output Group 1.2: National exhibitions, programs and services — Financial summary measured against PBS

The price of Output 1.2 was $40.351m (anticipated $36.539m). Departmental appropriations were $31.761m (anticipated $31.902m) and revenue from other sources was $6.143m (anticipated $4.637m).

Output Group 1.2: National exhibitions, programs and services — Performance summary measured against PBS

Quality

Visitor satisfaction (94 per cent) exceeded the target of 85 per cent, and the satisfaction (98 per cent) of schools with the Museum's schools programs meeting core curriculum requirements also substantially exceeded the target (80 per cent).

Quantity

The target of 1,150,000 for the number of visitors or users of Museum exhibitions and programs (including web) was exceeded (1,007,856 visitors or users and 1,521,926 web visitors: a total achievement of 2,529,782).

Achievement of strategic and business priorities

Strategic and business priorities:
Summary of activities and achievements, 2007–08

1. Key strategic priority: Enhance exhibitions, programs and services

The National Museum of Australia strives to ensure that Australians have access to its collections and programs and to encourage awareness and understanding of Australian history and culture. The Museum will achieve this by developing and delivering exhibitions and activities that are audience-focused, object-centred and rich in content.

Business priorities
for 2007–08

Reports

1.1 Deliver the new Circa audiovisual program

Circa opened to the public over the first week of April on a preview basis to enable technical testing and adjustments.

See Gallery development - Circa.

1.2 Deliver the new Australian Journeys gallery

The gallery concept was finalised in September 2007, with content development and developed design completed in December 2007 and May 2008 respectively.

See Gallery development - Development of the permanent galleries.

1.3 Continue development of the new Creating a Country gallery

Significant progress in the development of this new exhibition gallery included:

  • research undertaken on its key themes
  • identification of collections to be acquired.
See Gallery development - Development of the permanent galleries.
1.4 Develop and deliver a temporary gallery program

The temporary gallery program promotes knowledge of Australian history and provides access to Museum collections throughout the country.

This year the Museum:

  • delivered two major temporary exhibitions of greater than 600 m 2 (Papunya Painting and League of Legends), which attracted 89,348 visitors, and one exhibition of more than 250 m 2 (70% Urban)
  • presented two buy-in displays
  • opened a major exhibition in two Japanese venues (Osaka and Tokyo) and continued planning to host two major international exhibitions at the Museum.
See Temporary Exhibitions – Temporary Gallery.

2. Key strategic priority: Develop the National Historical Collection and improve collections storage

The National Museum of Australia is mandated to develop and maintain a national collection of historical material. The Museum will continue to develop its acquisitions program, maintain its collections to the highest possible standards and improve its collections storage.

Business priorities
for 2007–08

Reports

2.1 Develop the collection through key acquisitions and targeted collecting projects

The Museum's Council approved 113 significant collections for inclusion in the National Historical Collection. All were acquired in accordance with the Collection Development Framework as set out in the PBS performance indicator. Targeted collecting projects supported gallery development and future exhibitions. A series of operating procedures concerning collection assessment and documentation were reviewed and improved procedures were implemented.

See Developing the collection.

2.2 Develop storage and management plans that ensure the long-term preservation and sustainability of Museum collections

A detailed functional design brief and strategy for collections storage was completed.

The Museum implemented its conservation work plan, and exceeded PBS performance indicators, with 2289 objects treated for all purposes by conservators.

See Management performance – Storage and accommodation planning.

2.3 Increase the quantity, quality and accessibility of collection information

Collection information was increased as follows:

  • 4175 objects were accessioned
  • 13,904 object records were added to the collections database
  • approximately 9115 object records were digitised and uploaded to the Museum's website.

See Managing the collection.

3. Key strategic priority: Strengthen research and scholarship

The National Museum of Australia aims to be a centre of excellence for research and scholarship, and to contribute to the body of knowledge about Australian history and culture. The Museum will significantly develop its research andscholarship activity over the coming years.

Business priorities
for 2007–08

Reports

3.1 Establish the Centre for Historical Research and devise a program of research, conferences and publications

Research and scholarship continued to be fundamental to Museum activities.

Highlights included:

  • continued development of the Centre for Historical Research and recruitment of nine staff
  • continuation of the Visiting Fellowships program
  • strengthening of the relationship with The Australian National University
  • progress on four Australian Research Council projects
  • publication of two issues of the scholarly e-journal reCollections.

See Research and Scholarship.

3.2 Integrate the operations of the Centre for Historical Research into existing Museum research in history, museum studies and material culture

The Centre for Historical Research:

  • formed a strong working relationship with other divisions and sections of the Museum, particularly Public Programs, Friends and curatorial sections
  • provided speakers or chairs for several public events, and worked harmoniously and productively on several gatherings in the course of the year, notably the 'Australian museums since 1970' workshop, the Pacific Museums conference and the Collections Symposium
  • jointly organised a history workshop with the Friends to foster historical skills among amateur historians
  • worked closely with the National Museum of Australia Press in producing reCollections.

See Research and Scholarship.

3.3 Establish research partnerships with academic and institutional partners

Research partnerships were established with the following partners:

  • Griffith University (environmental history)
  • Academy of Natural Sciences, Philadelphia, and CSIRO (Gould collection of birds)
  • Menzies Centre, London (joint programming)
  • University of Tasmania (use of Your Story software on the university's heritage site).

See Research and Scholarship – Strategic research partnerships.

4. Key strategic priority: Enhance national and international profile

The National Museum of Australia's vision is to be a recognised world-class museum. The Museum will continue to develop as a national institution of international standing though leadership in museum practice, by fostering partnerships and delivering effective, engaging outreach programs.

Business priorities
for 2007–08

Reports

4.1 Build relationships and collaborations with the museum sector in Australia and internationally

Relationships and collaborations established or continued during the year included:

  • British Museum, London (Indigenous collections)
  • American Museum of Natural History, New York (Darwin, Water exhibitions)
  • Australian Museum, Sydney (Papunya Painting exhibition)
  • Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart (Tayenebe exhibition)
  • Museum and Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin (Yalangbara exhibition)
  • National Museum of Art, Osaka; National Art Center, Tokyo (Utopia exhibition).

See Temporary exhibitions.

See Outreach programs.

4.2 Deliver travelling exhibitions and other outreach programs

High quality outreach programs delivered to the Australian community included:

  • nine Museum exhibitions, which travelled to 26 venues in six states across Australia, including 11 metropolitan and 18 regional centres, and one rural location, attracting more than 300,000 visitors
  • the development and delivery of an international touring exhibition, Utopia: The Genius of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, shown at two venues in Japan to 69,765 visitors
  • programs such as Talkback Classroom and Snapshots, as well as a series of books titled First Australians: Plenty Stories developed for education audiences around Australia
  • significant new online content including exhibitions, audio on demand and interactive programs.

See Outreach programs.

See Communicating and connecting with the community – The Museum's website.

5. Key strategic priority: Develop staff, business practices and infrastructure

The National Museum of Australia will continue to review the way business is conducted. The Museum will operate in a way that utilises better practices and provides an environment to assist staff to undertake their work.

Business priorities
for 2007–08

Reports

5.1 Develop staff accommodation plan

A staff accommodation planning exercise, aiming to identify current pressures, provide baseline data and analyse future accommodation planning, was completed.

See Management performance – Storage and accommodation planning.

5.2 Support workforce diversity and skill retention

The Museum continued to implement the Workplace Diversity Plan 2005–08, with a focus on recruitment and retention of Indigenous staff. Corporate training concentrated on building capability in cultural awareness, contract management and leadership.

See Management performance – People management: Supporting and making workplace diversity a priority.

5.3 Augment and upgrade the Museum's information technology infrastructure

Key achievements included the implementation of new or upgraded:

  • asset management of software products
  • systems to ensure the availability of business applications and information technology services in the event of hardware failures
  • security service to further protect the Museum from internet-generated threats such as viruses, spam, spyware and inappropriate content.

New online business system projects were completed, enabling web-based recruitment and web access to the Museum's collection management system.

A Request for Tender for the supply and implementation of network switch infrastructure was completed.

See Enhancing key services – Information technology.

5.4 Commence negotiations for the next Certified Agreement

A Certified Agreement Working Group, comprising representatives from management, staff and the Community and Public Sector Union, commenced negotiations on 4 March 2008, and finalised a draft agreement for assessment and endorsement by the Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations and the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts by June 2008.

See Management performance – People management: Impact and features of workplace agreements.