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The year at a glance

Key moments


  • Memorandum of Understanding signed with Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, to collaboratively develop a major exhibition on the Australian Indigenous collections held in the British Museum (above left).


  • Film and television director Rachel Perkins opens From Little Things Big Things Grow: Fighting for Indigenous Rights 1920–1970, an exhibition reflecting the struggle for Indigenous equality and legal recognition (above right).
Two colour photographs side by side. The photograph on the left shows Neil MacGregor and Craddock Morton sitting at a table signing documents. The photograph on the right shows a group of five people. In the foreground a woman shakes the hand of a man sitting a wheelchair. Three women are in the background.


  • Representatives from the Museum attend National Museums in a Transnational Age: A Conversation between Historians and Museum Professionals, an international conference held in Prato, Italy, organised jointly by the Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, Monash University and the University of Technology, Sydney.
  • An international symposium, Barks, Birds & Billabongs: Exploring the Legacy of the 1948 American–Australian Scientific Expedition to Arnhem Land, was opened by the Governor-General Quentin Bryce AC (above left).


  • United States Ambassador to Australia, Jeffrey L Bleich, visits the exhibition Water: H2O=Life, and confirms the importance of Australian–American cultural exchange (above right).
Two colour photographs, side by side. The photograph on the left a group of three Indigenous performers in traditional dress are on the right side of the photograph facing a group of conference attendees. The photograph on the right shows a film shoot. The camera operator is on the left side of the image, the performer in the centre of crowd of people looking on.


  • Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announces an exhibition on the Irish presence in Australia that will open 17 March 2011.
  • The Director visits the National Art Museum of China to progress discussions about an exchange of exhibitions supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
  • Museum Council and Friends farewell retiring Director, Craddock Morton (above left).


  • Launch of First Australians: Plenty Stories, a unique curriculum resource for primary schools on the histories, cultures and identities of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (above right). The series was written by senior Indigenous Education Officer, Trish Albert.
Two colour photographs, side by side. The left side photograph shows a woman and three men. Two of the men are shaking hands, at the right side of the photograph. The right side photograph shows a woman standing at a lectern.


  • The Museum's 2008–09 annual report wins a gold award in the Australasian Reporting Awards and wins gold for its online report in the Institute of Public Administration of Australia (ACT) awards (above left).


  • The Governor-General, Quentin Bryce AC, and the Museum's new Director, Andrew Sayers AM, officiate at the opening of Papunya Painting: Out of the Australian Desert at the National Art Museum of China, Beijing (above right). The Museum's first website in a language other than English goes live to support the exhibition.
Two colour photographs, side by side. The left side photograph shows several copies of the Museum's 2008-2009 annual report displayed on a table. In photograph on the right the Governor-General Quentin Bryce AC stands at a lectern. The Museum's Director Andrew Sayers AM is sitting on the right side of the lectern.

Performance summary

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

Increased awareness and understanding of Australia's history and culture by managing the National Museum's collections and providing access through public programs and exhibitions.
(National Museum of Australia, Portfolio Budget Statements, 2009–10)

Financial summary

Total revenue for 2009–10 was $47.344 million (anticipated $44.548 million). Revenue from government was $40.182 million and revenue from other sources was $7.162 million (anticipated $4.366 million).

The Museum's financial statements disclose an operating deficit of $2.246 million compared with the 2008–09 operating surplus of $0.004 million. The Museum received approval from the Minister for Finance and Deregulation to incur an operating loss in 2009–10. The Museum also received an equity injection of $1.863 million in 2009–10 to fund National Historical Collection acquisitions.

Revenue from non-government sources decreased by $0.342 million this year. The decrease was the result of decreased retail sales and decreased interest earnings. Donated assets for 2009–10 were valued at $0.538 million.

Total expenses increased by $1.815 million. The balance sheet discloses an increase in the Museum's net assets to $6.317 million. In 2009–10 there was an increase in the asset revaluation reserve following an independent valuation of land and buildings ($0.015 million) and heritage and cultural assets ($6.685 million).

Cash as at 30 June 2010 totalled $2.246 million (30 June 2009: $1.488 million) and investments totalled $45.777 million (30 June 2009: $47.208 million).

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A photograph showing a wood and fabric biplane glider suspended from the ceiling of a museum. The glider has a wooden frame and a box-style tailplane. It is hung with its front end facing the right of the photograph. Underneath the glider are three people, looking up at it. One person has his arms raised above his head pointing at something on the glider. Other people can be seen in the background of the photograph. The ceiling of the photograph has distinctive curved sections that create dramatic angles and forms.
A replica of George Augustine Taylor's 1909 biplane glider on display in the Hall.

Program summary

Quantitative and qualitative performance indicators were met or exceeded across the two programs within the Museum's one outcome:

Program 1.1 Collection development and management

The target of 100 per cent for the proportion of acquisitions acquired in accordance with the Collection Development Framework was achieved. The estimate for the percentage (75 per cent) of the National Historical Collection being packed or stored at, or above, appropriate museum standards was 81 per cent.

The Museum acquired 108 collections as part of the National Historical Collection. The number of conservation treatments completed was 1469, against an estimate of 1000 treatments. Against the anticipation that documentation for 7500 collection items would be made available on the Museum's website, 15,877 were made available.

Program 1.2 National exhibitions, programs and services

Visitor satisfaction with the Museum (94 per cent) exceeded the target (85 per cent) and 99 per cent of school visits met the core curriculum requirements (target 80 per cent).

The target of 3,270,000 for the number of visitors or users of the Museum's collections, exhibitions and programs (including web) was substantially exceeded with a total of 4,171,904 (880,030 visitors or users and 3,291,874 web visitors).

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 reached (75 per cent achieved).

Achievement of strategic and business priorities

Strategic priority 1: Enhance exhibitions, programs and services

Business priorities


1.1 Complete Stage 1 of planning for Discovery Centre and K-Space redevelopment (Audience and access)*

Scheduling dependent on development of long-term capital plan.

1.2 Continue development of Landmarks: People and Places across Australia (Audience and access)*

Achieved The Landmarks gallery development project is on track, with the completion of the documented design for the gallery and the selection of a successful tenderer for the primary and secondary works.

See Museum Development, Landmarks: People and Places across Australia.

1.3 Develop and deliver a temporary gallery program (Audience and access)*

Achieved Exhibition development included:

  • content development for an exhibition on the experience of the Irish in Australia
  • content development for Yalangbara
  • design documentation for Exploration and Endeavour: The Royal Society of London and the South Seas
  • installation of From Little Things Big Things Grow
  • installation of Tayenebe: Tasmanian Aboriginal Women's Fibre Work
  • installation of Water: H2O=Life
  • fabrication of Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route.

See Temporary Exhibitions.

1.4 Redevelop the broadcast studio into a temporary gallery space (Audience and access)*

Achieved The first exhibition, Exploration and Endeavour: The Royal Society of London and the South Seas, will be installed in September 2010.

Strategic priority 2: Develop the National Historical Collection and improve collections storage

Business priorities


2.1 Develop the collection through key acquisitions and targeted collecting projects (Collection and stewardship)*

Achieved A total of $1.869 m was invested in acquisitions for the National Historical Collection, and 108 significant collections were approved by Council. Targeted collecting projects included the Tasmanian Women's Basket collection and the 2009 Political Cartoons collection.

See Developing the collection.

2.2 Develop storage and management plans that ensure the long-term preservation and sustainability of Museum collections (Collection and stewardship)* Achieved Plans developed for projects included the Preventative Collections Preservation Program and Stage 1, Legacy Collections Project.

See Managing the collection.

2.3 Increase the quantity, quality and accessibility of collection information (Collection and stewardship)*

Achieved National Historical Collection items accessible via the Museum's website increased by 15,877 this reporting year compared to last year's 10,742.

See Managing the collection, Online access to the collection.

Strategic priority 3: Strengthen research and scholarship capability

Business priorities


3.1 Consolidate the Centre for Historical Research and continue a program of research, conferences and publications (Collection and stewardship)*

Achieved Programs included Barks, Birds & Billabongs symposium (November 2009) and Collections Symposium 2010: Caring for Collections (May 2010).

See Research and scholarship.

3.2 Integrate the operations of the Centre for Historical Research into existing Museum research in history, museums studies and material culture (Collection and stewardship)*

Achieved Integration continued through a range of products developed including publications, articles and talks.

See Research and scholarship.

3.3 Continue a program of research in history, museum studies and material culture (Collection and stewardship)*

Achieved Individual research programs completed as per research schedule. Workshop held with key historians to explore defining moments in Australian history (November 2009).

See Research and scholarship.

3.4 Establish research partnerships with academic and institutional partners (Collection and stewardship)*

Achieved Partnerships have been formed with The Australian National University, the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies in London and Curtin University's Centre for Advanced Studies in Australia, Asia and the Pacific. One Australian Research Council Grant project was completed and three projects await approval to proceed.

See Research and scholarship, Strategic research partnerships.

* Relevant performance stream as per revised Performance Management Framework.

Strategic priority 4: Enhance national and international profile

Business priorities


4.1 Build relationships and collaborations with the museum sector in Australia and internationally (Audience and access)*

Achieved Director travelled to Japan in February 2010 to progress discussions about exhibition exchange. Director officiated at the opening of the Papunya Painting: Out of the Australian Desert exhibition in Beijing in June 2010, building relationships with the National Art Museum of China and Chinese Government officials.

See Outreach.

The Museum jointly created the Yalangbara exhibition with the Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), which will be exhibited at both the Museum and MAGNT in December 2010.

4.2 Deliver travelling exhibitions and associated outreach programs (Audience and access)*

Achieved Outreach programs and travelling exhibitions included:

  • Papunya Paintings: Out of the Australian Desert (an international exhibition supported by the Australian Government)
  • Behind the Lines: The Year's Best Cartoons 2009 (tour ongoing)
  • From Little Things Big Things Grow (tour ongoing)
  • Symbols of Australia (tour ongoing)
  • the education program 'Snapshots' delivered in Queensland.

See Outreach.

4.3 Continue development of rich web content to extend access to the National Historical Collection and programs, exhibitions, research and activities and explore for online community engagement (Audience and access)*

Achieved 33 collection highlights published, including eight major features such as 'Bottles from the basin'.
Five programs completed, including 'Forgotten Australians' and 'Inside life in children's homes' (blog and community consultation).
108 audio-on-demand programs were made available including papers delivered at the indigenous Participation in Australian Economies conference (25 programs).

See Outreach, Online outreach - the Museum's website.

4.4 Engage with key Australian government cultural, educational and equity initiatives (Audience and access)*

Achieved The Museum provided advice on the development of the first four subjects for the Australian curriculum, including history, and supported the Parliament and Civics Education Rebate Program in the Australian Capital Territory.

See Outreach, Contribution to the development of a national history curriculum and the digital education revolution.

The Museum was a major partner in the Community Heritage Grants Program funded by the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts.

See Outreach, Extending our national reach.

Strategic priority 5: Develop staff, business practices and infrastructure

Business priorities


5.1 Develop and implement the new Workplace Diversity Plan (Organisational health and culture)*

In progress Workplace Diversity Plan developed and implementation commenced.

See Sustainability, Taking care of people, Supporting and making workplace diversity a priority.

5.2 Design and build administration wing extension (Organisational health and culture)*

In progress Government approved use of Museum reserves to fund the administration wing extension.

5.3 Augment the Museum's information technology infrastructure to enable automated disaster recovery for key business systems (Organisational health and culture)*

Achieved New automated disaster recovery solution implemented.

See Director's review of operations


see Management performance.

5.4 Develop and implement the Digital Asset Management Strategy (Collection and stewardship)*

In progress Procurement process completed with implementation to be completed in 2010–11.

See Managing the collection, Managing digital assets at the Museum.

* Relevant performance stream as per revised Performance Management Framework.