In 2003 the Council of the National Museum of Australia initiated a review, known as the Carroll Review, of the Museum's exhibitions and programs. In one of its resulting recommendations, the review panel advised the Museum to reconsider the selection of themes and narratives for the existing Horizons and Nation galleries. In 2004 the Museum produced the Collections and Gallery Development Plan 2004–08 to address the review's findings.
The plan proposed that the Horizons gallery be redeveloped as the Australian Journeys gallery, to represent voyages of discovery, exploration and settlement of the Australian continent. It also proposed redeveloping the Nation gallery as the Creating a Country gallery (see below), to provide a general history of Australia's economic, social and political conditions. Included in the plan was the redevelopment of the Circa multimedia experience to more strongly focus on providing an introduction to the Museum. The Museum Enhancement Program was established to implement the Collections and Gallery Development Plan 2004–08.
In December 2008 the Museum opened the new Australian Journeys gallery (see Permanent galleries) and continued to work on developing and delivering the Creating a Country gallery.
Circa is a revolving theatre at the entrance to the Museum's exhibition spaces. Circa introduces visitors to the Museum's exhibitions and collections, and takes them on a visual journey through history, from deep time to contemporary Australia.
The new version of Circa, which opened in April 2008, underwent technical testing and additional content development this year. The final version was completed in December 2008. Prominent Australian composer Michael Yezerski was commissioned to compose music for the soundtrack for Circa.
Creating a Country
Work continued on developing Creating a Country, which is scheduled to open in early 2011. Creating a Country is the working title for the next permanent gallery to be redeveloped. The gallery will present a general history of Australia through 10 key themes that focus on events in particular times and places. It will explore how people have responded to the challenges of living in Australia and their subsequent distinctive social, political and economic practices. The objects in the gallery will communicate the physical character of responses to the continent, and the ingenuity and determination that Australians have displayed in making their lives here.
Substantial content development for Creating a Country was completed in 2008–09. Curators continued their research into the exhibition's content, travelling across the country to visit the places and communities that will be featured in the gallery. The Curatorial team also delivered workbooks, which document and organise exhibition research, for each of the 10 exhibition modules. They allow curators to communicate the exhibition's content to the designers, fabricators, multimedia producers and other Museum team members working to produce the new gallery.
The Museum commenced work with exhibition designers Cunningham Martyn Design to develop concept designs for the gallery, including high-level mapping of objects, cases, exhibition furniture and interpretive elements on a floor plan.
Curatorial and Registration staff worked on confirming objects for inclusion in the gallery, and negotiating loan agreements for objects that will be borrowed from institutions and individuals across Australia, while the Conservation team began preparing objects for display.