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Director's review of operations

A colour photograph of Andrew Sayers AM
Director Andrew Sayers AM

My term as Director of the National Museum commenced towards the end of the financial year (1 June 2010), when many of the Museum's strategic and business priorities for the year were in the final stages of delivery.

Earlier in the financial year, the Museum's internal planning and reporting framework was restructured to incorporate four performance streams: collection and stewardship, audience and access, environmental impact, and organisational health and culture. The Museum has performed well against internal measures and indicators set within these streams.

In reviewing the year, a number of achievements stand out. The government agreed that the Museum's reserves could be used to fund the extension of the administration wing, which will free up an estimated 650 square metres in the main building for public use. The Museum's website continued to build visitation beyond expectations and a record number of students participated in school programs at Acton. Relationships and partnerships with key organisations were deepened: for example, a Memorandum of Understanding was developed with our neighbour on the Acton Peninsula, the Australian Institute for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

I am proud of the extent to which Indigenous people and culture were a focus of Museum activities during the year including the travelling exhibition From Little Things Big Things Grow and the international symposium, Barks, Birds & Billabongs: Exploring the legacy of the 1948 American–Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land. The Museum also produced First Australians: Plenty Stories, a major curriculum resource for primary school students and completed significant work on Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route (exhibition opening 29 July 2010).

At the international level, the Museum took the exhibition Papunya Painting: Out of the Australian Desert to the National Art Museum of China in Beijing, as a flagship program of the Australian Government's Imagine Australia: Year of Australian Culture in China.

A colour photograph of an Indigenous man engaged in a traditional dance. He wears a sarong-style garment around his lower body and has traditional patterned markings on his upper body. Behind him on a low stage sit two other Indigenous Australian men. One playing the didgeridoo while the other plays a pair of clapping sticks. Both have traditional markings on their upper bodies.
The opening of the Barks, Birds & Billabongs symposium.

I am pleased to report that the Museum's budget outcome was as predicted. The Museum's commitment to accountability is exemplary. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge that the substantial organisational results of 2009–10 are attributable to the leadership of the previous Director, Craddock Morton, who retired on 26 March 2010.

There are challenges ahead for the National Museum and I will be devoting significant energy to them over the coming year. The challenges as I see them are to be relevant, to engage as fully as possible with all parts of the Australian community, to maximise the opportunities offered by a national curriculum and to find solutions for some of the Museum's infrastructure needs.

I have been impressed with the dedication and commitment of Museum staff and look forward to working with them to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Museum in March 2011. The celebrations will see the announcement of major new plans for the Museum over the next 10 years including the redevelopment of the Acton Peninsula site, the refurbishment of galleries and public spaces and a dynamic schedule of exhibitions and programs.

Finally, the Friends of the National Museum of Australia, our many volunteers and our partners have added significantly to our success. I also wish to thank and congratulate every staff member for their commitment and contributions this year.

Andrew Sayers AM
August 2010