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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 history 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 environments. The gallery also explores the personal and emotional attachments of people to the great range of Australian landscapes and places.

Horizons: The Peopling of Australia since 1788

The Horizons gallery explored the reasons people came to Australia, from the convict period through to the present day. It included 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. Horizons closed on 14 October 2007 so work on the gallery space could commence for the new Australian Journeys gallery.

Supporting regional museums
Surprise gifts

A medium-distance view of an exhibit – cases made of dark red toned wood and glass stretch into the background. The cases contain a variety of objects and images.
Above image: These showcases were donated to two museums in regional Victoria.

When the permanent exhibition gallery Horizons closed in October 2007, gallery furniture was removed for storage and then assessed for future use. Some items were to be re-used within the Museum, and damaged or scrap items were destroyed, but the rest were offered to interested museums.

Museums Australia agreed to act on behalf of the National Museum and conducted a call for expressions of interest through its regional museums network. The response was enthusiastic, with 42 expressions of interest received.

The Museum's Exhibition Administration Officer, Rachael Hession, then had the interesting task of contacting the successful recipients and making arrangements for delivery of the exhibition furniture. This was by no means a simple task, as the items for dispersal ranged from very large vitrines or showcases to hardwood plinths and metal label stands.

Fiona Mohr from Queensland Museum Regional Services, who coordinated the offer in that state, told Rachael: 'Bundaberg is over the moon about the offer. The Bundaberg Council is currently building the Hinkler Hall of Aviation within its Botanic Gardens, so this offer will allow the other museums in the gardens to professionally complement the new development.'

Other museums that received donations of exhibition furniture from the Museum were the Light Horse and Military Museum in Harden, and the Braidwood Museum, both in New South Wales, and the Western Australian Maritime Museum in Fremantle.

Nation: Symbols of Australia

The Nation gallery explores Australian history and culture through the lens of national symbols, both official and popular, and examines how the objects and events that we identify as being 'Australian' have come to be thought of in this way. It also looks at the values and ideas these powerful symbols represent, and how history has cemented these symbols into the Australian imagination.

In 2010 the Nation gallery will be replaced by the new Creating a Country gallery, as part of the Museum Enhancement Program.

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 life stories to highlight larger moments, movements, events and themes in Australian history. The gallery's display is based on emotions such as joy, hope, passion and fear, and experiences such as loneliness, mystery, thrill, devotion, separation and chance. This year, two new life stories were installed in the gallery. They were those of:

  • Jack Lamont, and his life spent caring for his wife (devotion)
  • Beryl Royal, and her childhood growing up in lighthouses along the New South Wales coast (loneliness).

Substantial research was also undertaken on three new stories to be installed in September 2008.

First Australians: Gallery of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples (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, and incorporates 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 the culture and experiences of Indigenous Australians from time immemorial, through colonisation to contemporary Australian life.

During 2007–08, substantial research was also undertaken on the development of a major new module on the history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait resistance, to be opened in late 2008.

Gallery objects removed and installed

Gallery Objects removed Objects installed
Old New Land 106 19
Nation 11 28
Horizons 269 0
Eternity 53 12
First Australians 147 124
TOTAL 586 183