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National Museum fast facts

  • The National Museum is home to the National Historical Collection — more than 200,000 historical and Indigenous objects collected since 1980.
  • Less than two per cent of the collection is on show at Acton at any one time, with the majority stored in repositories on the outskirts of Canberra.
  • The Museum has the largest collection of bark paintings in the world.
  • The oversized heart of Australian racehorse Phar Lap is the most requested visitor object, followed by a black dress worn by baby Azaria Chamberlain, who disappeared in mysterious circumstances from Uluru.
  • The Museum's conservation policy is one of preservation and maintenance. Artefacts from farm machinery to musical instruments are kept in full working order with their historic integrity retained.
  • Approximately 60 per cent of visitors come from outside the Australian Capital Territory and about 10 per cent from overseas.
  • The National Museum of Australia was named Australia's Best Major Tourist Attraction in 2005 and 2006.
  • The National Museum was designed by Melbourne architects Ashton Raggatt McDougall and Robert Peck von Hartel Trethowan, following an international design competition.
  • The building reflects the many intertwined stories that make up Australia's history. One of these tangled threads of history is the dramatic loop which rises 30 metres above the Museum entrance.
  • More than 80,000 students participate in the Museum's school programs each year.
  • The Museum's Repatriation Unit negotiates the return of ancestral remains and sacred objects to Indigenous communities. The return of the remains of 300 individuals to the South Australian Ngarrindjeri people is Australia's largest single return to date.

For images, interviews or more information please contact the National Museum's Public Affairs office on (02) 6208 5351, 0409 916 481, or or visit