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Museum visitors captivated on fifth anniversary

9 MARCH 2006

The National Museum of Australia marks a couple of key milestones this week, with the fifth anniversary of operations at Acton and more than 70,000 people visiting its Captivating and Curious exhibition.

This Saturday, 11 March, marks five years since the existing building was opened to celebrate the centenary of federation. In that time, more than three million people have visited the museum and its collection has grown to more than 200,000 objects.

The anniversary comes hard on the heels of one of the museum's most successful summer visitation periods. As of yesterday, 71,508 people - including about 42,900 visitors from the ACT - had seen the Captivating and Curious exhibition.

The exhibition, which closes on 20 March, showcases the diversity of the National Museum collection, which began more than 25 years ago, long before the museum was built at Acton.

'We're particularly pleased visitors are responding so warmly to the big ticket items, everyday ephemera - and the chance to learn more about the history of museum practice - in the Captivating and Curious exhibition,' National Museum director Craddock Morton said.

Mr Morton said the museum was concentrating this year on reinvigorating its exhibitions - and building, researching and caring for its National Historical Collection.

'Items from our collection which were new to the museum or were kept in storage at Mitchell are increasingly finding their way into our permanent exhibitions - and our visitors are telling us they are enjoying the chance to see new objects ranging from an unrestored FJ Holden to some of the wonderful costumes from the Maple-Brown's Springfield property, near Goulburn.'

Mr Morton said the museum's upcoming exhibition program included the exclusive Australian showing of an extraordinary exhibition of Pacific Island artefacts collected by Captain James Cook, opening in June. Other exhibitions will look at the centenary of surf life saving and the history of the Miss Australia quest.

To mark the fifth anniversary the museum will also launch a new electronic journal of social history and museum practice at a collecting conference on 21 March.

PHOTO OPPORTUNITY: 11.30am, Saturday, 11 March. Audience and Public Programs manager Louise Douglas cutting the National Museum's fifth birthday cake, at a birthday party for five-year-old guests and their families in the Hall.

For interviews, images and more information please contact Leanda Kitchen on 02 6208 5338, 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au