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Exhibition program

Developing and presenting exhibitions are key functions of the National Museum of Australia, as specified in the Museum Act. This year, the temporary and travelling exhibitions program continued to be strong, and included content that supports the Museum’s core themes of land, nation and people, linked to the National Historical Collection.

In 2013–14, the Museum delivered four temporary exhibitions and toured five travelling exhibitions.

Temporary exhibitions

Glorious Days: Australia 1913 (7 March – 13 October 2013), Temporary Gallery, 23,481 visitors (52,501 total visitation)

Glorious Days transported visitors back in time to explore the fashion, cars, designs and ideas that expressed a nation’s dreams before the world changed forever. In 1913, Australians saw their new nation as progressive, and free to make its own future in the world. The new capital, Canberra, was the expression of a national dream and the year culminated in the arrival in Sydney Harbour of Australia’s own navy.

Glorious Days featured artworks and costumes, music and newsreel footage from Australia a century ago. The Temporary Gallery was transformed into a streetscape from 1913 and immersed visitors in the colour and vibrancy of what has been described as a ‘hinge year’ in Australia’s history.

Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists (6 December 2013 to 20 July 2014), Temporary Gallery, 33,823 visitors (41,003 total visitation)

Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists presented 122 works on bark from east and west Arnhem Land, from the National Museum of Australia’s extensive bark painting collection – the largest held anywhere in the world.

Old Masters celebrated the genius and art of 40 master bark painters including Narritjin Maymuru, Yirawala, and Mawalan Marika. Feedback from the visitors book in the exhibition and in the media was overwhelmingly positive.

Warakurna: All the Stories Got into Our Minds and Eyes (7 December 2012 – 3 November 2013), First Australians Focus Gallery, 37,742 visitors (95,699 total visitation)

This was an exhibition of contemporary paintings and sculptures that document a new art movement emerging from the Western Desert community of Warakurna, by artists such as Eunice Yunurupa Porter, Judith Yinyika Chambers, Dianne Ungukalpi Golding, Jean Inyalanka Burke and Dorcas Tinamayi Bennett.

In September 2013 the Museum was successful in obtaining an Australia Council for the Arts Visions of Australia: Regional Exhibition Touring Fund grant to tour Warakurna across Australia for three years. Warakurna will travel to 11 venues across four states over the period.

On Country: Connect, Work, Celebrate (22 November 2013 to 20 July 2014), First Australians Focus Gallery, 48,430 visitors

On Country: Connect, Work, Celebrate was supported by the Department of Environment (previously the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities) and featured photographs from the department’s Working on Country and Indigenous Rangers program.

The exhibition showcased contemporary Indigenous land and sea management practices across Australia. Indigenous land and sea management practices build a connection to country and this connection is strengthened through caring for country, being on country, and celebrating country.

Travelling exhibitions

In 2013–14, five exhibitions travelled to a total of six different venues across New South Wales, Queensland, Northern Territory and Western Australia.

Of these venues, five were in metropolitan areas and one was in a regional area, and they attracted a total of 127,326 visitors. Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route, Warakurna: All the Stories Got into Our Minds and Eyes and Inside: Life in Children’s Homes and Institutions were national travelling exhibitions. Inside was supported by the Department of Social Services and Warakurna was supported by the Australia Council for the Arts Visions of Australia: Regional Exhibition Touring Fund.

Number of exhibitions at venues, 2004–13

Financial year Number of exhibitions
2004–05 5 at 9 venues
2005–06 8 at 28 venues
2006–07 9 at 28 venues
2007–08 9 at 26 venues
2008–09 11 at 32 venues
2009–10 9 at 17 venues
2010–11 8 at 25 venues
2011–12 9 at 23 venues
2012–13 5 at 7 venues
2013–14 5 at 6 venues

Travelling exhibitions, 2013–14

Title and visitor numbers
Description Venue Dates
A Different Time: The Expedition Photographs of Herbert Basedow: 1903–1928
4467
A fascinating historical record of life in remote Australia in the early 1900s

Liverpool Regional Museum, New South Wales

6 Apr – 13 Jul 2013

Places that Matter
2000
A banner display exploring the National Heritage List

Wanneroo Library and Cultural Centre, Western Australia

11 Jan – 23 Feb 2014
Yiwarra Kuju: The Canning Stock Route
1250
An exhibition exploring the history and communities of the Canning Stock Route region Queensland Museum, Brisbane 25 May  – 14 Jul 2013
Inside: Life in Children's Homes and Institutions
118,889
An exhibition about the experiences of some of the half a million children who spent time in institutional care in Australia in the 20th century

Melbourne Museum, Victoria

Western Australian Maritime Museum, Fremantle

29 Aug 2013 – 27 Jan 2014

14 Mar – 29 Jun 2014

Warakurna: All the Stories Got into Our Minds and Eyes
720
An exhibition of contemporary paintings and sculptures that document a new art movement emerging from the Western Desert community of Warakurna Godinymayin Yijard Rivers Arts and Culture Centre, Northern Territory 20 Jun – 31 Aug 2014

Note: date spans are for duration of exhibition, but figures are calculated from 1 July 2013.