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Programs and events

In 2013–14, 32,028 people attended organised programs and events at the Museum. These were developed to reflect the ongoing importance of the Museum’s core activities such as collections, exhibitions and conservation, and also to strongly reflect the preferences and interests of its increasingly diverse audience, both on-site and throughout the country. A particularly important strategy in the reporting period was to achieve growing audience numbers and diversity by developing programs and series of programs relating to particular demographics. The increasing use of digital technologies to reach national audiences, including uploading recorded highlights of events, was another strong feature of the Museum’s programs and events in 2013–14.

Overall, programs and events were developed for families and children, adults and people with disabilities, reflecting the Museum’s PBS outcome of increasing the public’s awareness and understanding of Australian history and culture.

Families and children

Programs and events for families and children continued to provide a valued and well-attended range of creative and relevant activities that connected to temporary exhibitions and the collection.

The NAIDOC on the Peninsula festival held in July 2013 attracted more than 2300 people to the Museum, strengthening the Museum’s connection with the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and highlighting the Museum’s Indigenous collection and galleries. The Australia Day festival on 26 January 2014 further highlighted the Museum’s close relationship with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities by celebrating Indigenous Australian contemporary culture through a variety of engaging activities, including prominent interstate performers. The day also connected closely with two important exhibitions, Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists and On Country: Connect, Work, Celebrate. The event attracted 2948 visitors, making it the third largest family festival event at the Museum.

The temporary exhibition Warakurna: All the Stories Got into Our Minds and Eyes inspired ‘Rock stories’, the July 2013 holiday program in the Discovery Space, which attracted 2635 visitors. A second program, ‘Board games and battleships’, was held in October 2013 in conjunction with the Glorious Days exhibition. This program was the first to conduct a large-scale activity in the centre of the Museum’s Main Hall during opening hours and attracted 2501 participants. The temporary exhibition, Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists, was the catalyst for the January 2014 school holiday program that encouraged children to experiment with printing and collage to express their own personal story and journey. This program attracted 1972 visitors.

The April 2014 holiday program drew for its theme on musical instruments in the Museum’s permanent collection. Children in the ‘Museum maestros’ program experimented with everyday objects to make and play their own musical instruments. Complementing this program, five musical instruments were temporarily installed in the Garden of Australian Dreams for visitors to play. Museum maestros became the most popular Discovery Space program since this type of programming began, receiving 2424 visitors over seven days.

Access programs

The Museum has an ongoing commitment to providing access to its collections, exhibitions and delivered programs for all Australians, including people with different levels of ability. In 2013–14, new programs were trialled for adults with a disability, including ‘Drummers not plumbers’ (music for adults with a disability) and a series of art workshops. ‘Creation station’, a new craft, art and music program for toddlers with and without disabilities, was also introduced.

A workshop entitled ‘Reminiscence’ was devised for adults living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease and their carers, and a second program for this audience, ‘Musical memories concert’, encouraged people to make new memories and connect to the Museum’s collections through song. The International Day of People with Disabilities was celebrated with an on-site festival that highlighted the many abilities of people and attracted 2262 people.

Adult learners

The Museum develops programs for adults with a wide variety of interests and backgrounds and communicates with these audiences in a range of ways by continuing to highlight the collections, exhibitions and core business of the Museum in fresh and exciting ways.

Of particular note in 2013–14 were several concerts in the Museum’s Main Hall. Performers included Indigenous singer–songwriters Gurrumul, Dewayne Everettsmith and Freshwater who performed for a capacity audience of 350 people, illustrating connections to family and home through the associated Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists temporary exhibition.

A second concert, Crossing Roper Bar, was a collaboration featuring Paul Grabowsky, the Australian Art Orchestra and Indigenous musicians Daniel Wilfred and David Wilfred of the Young Wägilak Group, whose music also connected to life stories contained in Old Masters. A third concert featured bands Mental as Anything and the Chantoozies, which played to an 800-strong capacity audience as part of Canberra’s Enlighten festival.

Two new adult programs were developed and implemented in the reporting period. ‘Night at the Museum’ invites a younger demographic (18–35 years) to participate in the Museum. In September, ‘Night at the Museum: Superstition’ explored ideas and activities related to the theme of superstition, while in February, ‘Night at the Museum: Love’ introduced its audience to different ideas and activities related to the theme of love. Both nights attracted audiences in excess of 500 people.

The second program, ‘Where our stories live’, involved a high-profile Australian talking about aspects of their life revealed through five personal objects. Presented in association with Radio National, and facilitated by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Hindsight producer, Catherine Freyne, the first program featured author, lecturer and comedian Tim Ferguson. The program attracted an audience of 130 at the Museum and will be heard by many more when it is broadcast on ABC radio later in 2014.

Existing programs continued, including the popular ‘Door to store: caring for your collection’ program, which is designed to both show the public how the Museum cares for its collections and give practical demonstrations of how people can store their collections at home. The Museum’s annual lecture series illustrating aspects of the temporary exhibition schedule continued to be very popular. The Glorious Days: Australia 1913 temporary exhibition series, featuring Professor Peter Stanley, Professor Jill Julius Matthews, Professor Rae Frances and Dr Guy Hansen, gave audiences an insight into a different exhibition theme each month, while the Old Masters: Australia’s Great Bark Artists lecture series amplified key ideas and themes from that important temporary exhibition. Speakers included Wally Caruana, Professor Howard Morphy and Dr Luke Taylor, with each lecture being fully subscribed.


“It was engaging from the very beginning, what a life Tim has had so far. I haven’t laughed so much for a while. Really looking forward to the rest of the series.”

Audience member, Where our stories live


The Museum continued to collaborate with other important organisations in 2013–14. TEDxCanberraWomen ran their annual event at the Museum, providing an opportunity for the Museum to observe the TEDx programming phenomenon, which has the mission, ‘Ideas worth spreading’, up close. The Australian Capital Territory Parks and Wildlife and Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve ‘Connecting to Ngunnawal country’ program was presented in association with the Museum’s temporary exhibition, On Country: Connect, Work, Celebrate. Participants followed ACT Parks Senior Indigenous Ranger Adrian Brown to Mount Ainslie and Gubur Dhaura ochre ground to gain an insight into the work of a ranger in the urban and rural environments of Ngunnawal country. During the annual Enlighten festival the Museum partnered with the National Film and Sound Archive to present two outdoor film screenings, BMX Bandits and Oz: A Rock ’n’ Roll Road Movie. The Museum also worked in association with the Australian National University to present the One River Centenary of Canberra symposium, Critical Undercurrents, and also with Dr Ron van Oers, who gave an illustrated talk titled, ‘Canberra: An international heritage perspective’, as part of the Humanities Research Centre’s Shaping Canberra: The Lived Experience of Place, Home and Capital conference.

School students

In 2013–14 the Museum offered a range of programs for students and teachers visiting the Museum. All programs drew on the collections of the Museum and illuminated aspects of the Australian Curriculum. A process of program review and revitalisation ensured the Museum continued to deliver high-quality curriculum-relevant programs to students and teachers on-site and in remote locations.

The number of requests for teacher professional development and pre-service teacher training continues to increase. A program co-developed with the University of Canberra saw more than 200 pre-service teaching students undertake professional development sessions at the Museum.

Professional development focusing on Indigenous culture and history, pedagogy relating to history teaching, and sessions based on the Australian Curriculum were conducted for more than 300 teachers and post-secondary learners. The Museum has commenced the process of accreditation for teacher professional development sessions for programs delivered through either video conference, the internet, or in person.

When surveyed, 99.84 per cent of teachers reported their experience was satisfactory, with 99.5 per cent reporting that the programs provided by the Museum were relevant to the curriculum. Teachers also commented that interpretation provided by the Museum’s educators was highly relevant and engaging for students.