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Past exhibitions

Australian of the Year Awards 2018

2018 Australian of the Year exhibition

Personal objects chosen by the eight extraordinary 2018 Australian of the Year State and Territory recipients that tell us something special about their aspirations and experiences.

'So That You Might Know Each Other': Faith and Culture in Islam

This exhibition was a celebration of Muslim people across the world, their daily lives, traditions and spirituality. It featured objects including musical instruments, armour, precious manuscripts, ceramics and jewellery.

20 April – 22 July 2018

The Art of Science: Baudin’s Voyagers 1800–1804

The Art of Science

Exquisite illustrations of Australian animals and marine life, as well as striking portraits of Aboriginal people, rare documents and hand-drawn maps from Nicolas Baudin’s expedition to Australia.

30 March – 24 June 2018

Lustre: Pearling & Australia

Lustre: Pearling & Australia

Lustre: Pearling & Australia delved into the gritty human story of pearling, weaving together Aboriginal, Asian and European histories to reveal insights into one of Australia’s oldest industries.

23 February – 22 July 2018

Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters

Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters

A journey across the Australian desert in an Aboriginal-led exhibition about the epic Seven Sisters Dreaming, with stunning artwork and digital interactives.

15 September 2017 – 28 February 2018

Shell necklace (detail) by Ashlee Murray.


A celebration of the unique practice of Tasmanian Aboriginal shell stringing – past, present and future – from the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

10 August 2017 – 3 October 2017

Children playing with LEGO® Bricks.

Towers of Tomorrow with LEGO® Bricks

Amazing models of international building icons from Australia, Asia and North America made with LEGO® Bricks.

28 July 2017 – 8 October 2017

Evolution: Masks from the Torres Strait

Evolution: Torres Strait Masks

This exhibition explored the longstanding importance of masks in Torres Strait culture and how they continue to influence contemporary art forms. Developed by the Gab Titui Cultural Centre on Thursday Island.

19 May 2017 – 23 July 2017

A Change Is Gonna Come

A Change Is Gonna Come

Remarkable stories of resistance from the 1967 referendum, the 1992 Mabo decision and other key events in the struggle to achieve equal rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

24 May 2017 – 28 January 2018


More than 140 years of Australian cycling history, from penny-farthings to elite road bikes, with stories of some of the passionate people who ride for work, sport and leisure.

13 April 2017 – 9 July 2017

Australian of the Year Awards 2017

Australian of the Year Awards 2017

Personal objects chosen by the eight extraordinary 2017 Australian of the Year finalists to tell us something special about their lives, aspirations and experiences.

16 December 2016 – 12 February 2017


Through the works of desert artists and the stories of traditional custodians, this exhibition told the story of the Canning Stock Route's impact on Aboriginal people, and the importance of the Country surrounding it.

5 August 2015 – 17 April 2017

Parks Changing Australia

Parks Changing Australia

A graphic banner exhibition showcasing excellence in contemporary park design. Developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the Australian Institute of Landscape Architects.

27 October 2016 – 7 May 2017

Statue of Mithras, marble, 100–200 CE, Rome, Italy. © The Trustees of the British Museum.

A History of the World in 100 Objects from the British Museum

This major exhibition from the collection of the British Museum explored the history of humanity – how we have shaped the world, and how the world has shaped us.

9 September 2016 – 29 January 2017

ACO Virtual

ACO Virtual

The Australian Chamber Orchestra on the virtual stage was a free interactive experience for all ages.

May 2016 – July 2016

Australian of the Year Awards 2016

Australian of the Year Awards 2016

Featured personal objects selected by the 2016 Australian of the Year finalists that have special significance to them and communicate something special about their lives and experiences.

16 December 2015 – 11 February 2016

Encounters: Revealing stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum


Encounters featured rare, early Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander objects from the British Museum. They were displayed with new objects from the Indigenous communities represented in the exhibition.

27 November 2015 – 28 March 2016

Unsettled: Stories within

Unsettled: Stories within

In Unsettled: Stories within, five leading Indigenous Australian artists responded to the National Museum of Australia’s major exhibition, Encounters, which revealed Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural material collected during the early years of European colonisation.

27 November 2015 – 28 March 2016

The Home Front: Australia during the First World War

The Home Front

Through personal stories, this exhibition looked at life on the home front during the First World War, exploring Australians’ choices, opportunities and challenges in a time of heightened emotions.

3 April 2015 – 11 October 2015

About the awards

Australian of the Year Awards 2015

Personal objects and video from Rosie Batty, Rodney Croome, Debra-lee Furness, Gill Hicks and the other state finalists in the 2015 Australian of the Year Awards.

17 December 2014 – 28 February 2015

Spirited: Australia's Horse Story


Stories of the powerful bonds formed between people and horses in Australia in the city and country, at work and in war and for competition and pleasure.

September 2014 – March 2015

Warlpiri Drawings

Warlpiri Drawings

The story of an intriguing collection of Indigenous artworks created by Warlpiri people in Australia's Northern Territory in the 1950s and beyond.

15 August 2014 – 28 June 2015

Old Masters

More than 120 bark Aboriginal paintings by Australia’s great bark artists, including Narritjin Maymuru, Yirawala, Mawalan Marika and their contemporaries.

December 2013 – July 2014

On Country: Connect, Work, Celebrate

On Country

Photographs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities caring for country using contemporary land and sea management practices.

November 2013 – July 2014

Glorious Days: Australia 1913

Glorious Days

Beautiful artworks, costume, photographs, music and newsreel footage from Australia in 1913, before the onset of war in Europe.

March 2013 – October 2013

Museum Workshop

A behind-the-scenes look at the art, science and craft of the conservators who care for the National Museum’s collection.

October 2012 – January 2013

Menagerie exhibition


Contemporary Indigenous sculptural works depicting a variety of Australian animals, produced by well-known and emerging artists. With Object: Australian Centre of Craft and Design, and the Australian Museum.

July 2012 – October 2012

Travelling the Silk Road exhibition

Travelling the Silk Road

Stories from the legendary Silk Road – one of the world's most celebrated trade routes. From the American Museum of Natural History.

March 2012 – July 2012

Inside: Life in Children's Homes and Institutions exhibition


Personal stories of life inside children's homes and institutions, from Forgotten Australians, former Child Migrants and members of the Stolen Generations.

November 2011 – February 2012

Off the Walls

Art from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander affairs agencies, given to or acquired by federal Indigenous agencies between 1967 and 2005. Includes a database of more than 2000 works now in the National Museum’s collection.

October 2011 – June 2012

Bipotaim exhibition


Bipotaim: Stories from the Torres Strait was an exhibition of striking photographs, stories and objects about the lives, culture and identity of Torres Strait Islanders.

September 2011 – April 2014

A New Horizon

A New Horizon

A powerful and important exhibition of contemporary Chinese art from the National Art Museum of China.

September 2011 – January 2012

Not Just Ned: A true history of the Irish in Australia

Not Just Ned

The history and influence of the Irish in Australia, from the arrival of the First Fleet to the present. Includes contemporary reflections by Irish migrants, video and audio.

March 2011 – July 2011

Yalangbara: Art of the Djang'kawu


Aboriginal artworks by the Marika family from north-east Arnhem Land, exploring the journey of the Djang'kawu ancestors. With the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

December 2010 – September 2011

Behind the Lines 2010

Behind the Lines 2010

The year’s best political cartoons, covering the rise of Julia Gillard, the federal election and hung parliament.

December 2010 – October 2011

Exploration and Endeavour exhibition

Exploration and Endeavour

Rare treasures associated with voyages of scientific discovery to the South Seas, from explorers including James Cook and Matthew Flinders. With the Royal Society of London.

September 2010 – February 2011

Yiwarra Kuju

The story of the Canning Stock Route's impact on Aboriginal people, through artworks by senior and emerging artists and the stories of traditional custodians. With FORM.

July 2010 – July 2013

Papunya Painting: out of the desert exhibition

Papunya Painting: Out of the Australian Desert

Western Desert Aboriginal artworks from the National Museum's collection, shown at the National Art Museum of China. In English and Mandarin.

June 2010 – August 2010

tayenebe exhibition


Weaving and original fibre works by Tasmanian Aboriginal women. From the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.

March 2010 – July 2010

Water exhibition


A global perspective on the Earth's most precious resource. From the American Museum of Natural History.

December 2009 – May 2010

Behind the Lines 2009 exhibition

Behind the Lines 2009

The year's best political cartoons, covering carbon trading, the global financial crisis and the Black Saturday bushfires.

December 2009 – January 2010

From Little Things Big Things Grow exhibition

From Little Things Big Things Grow

Personal stories and video interviews with activists who fought for Indigenous civil rights in Australia from 1920 to 1970. Related to the Collaboration for Indigenous Rights website.

September 2009 – May 2012

Symbols of Australia exhibition

Symbols of Australia

Ten symbols Australians have chosen to represent themselves and their nation, including the kangaroo, flag, wattle, boomerang and the Southern Cross.

August 2009 – May 2012

A Fine Yarn exhibition

A Fine Yarn

This exhibition examined the fine wool industry in Australia today, while recognising the importance of wool in its social and economic history.

July 2009 – November 2009

Vaka Moana exhibition

Voyages of the Pacific Ancestors

Vaka Moana traced the dramatic story of one of the largest human migrations of all time across one third of the planet – the voyages of Pacific Islanders across the Pacific Ocean. An exhibition developed by Te Papa.

June 2009 – October 2009

We came as workers exhibition

We came as workers, we stayed as citizens

Images showing the history and growth of Victoria's Turkish community. From Museum Victoria

March 2009 – April 2009

Darwin exhibition


Detailed the life and work of Charles Darwin. The concurrent Darwin and Australia exhibition looked at Darwin's experiences during his short but important visit to Australia in early 1836. From the American Museum of Natural History.

December 2008 – March 2009

Behind the Lines 2008 exhibition

Behind the Lines 2008

The best political cartoons from a year when Labor held government for the first time in a decade, Kevin Rudd said sorry and Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull led the Liberals.

December 2008 – February 2009

Recoil exhibition


Explored the way the coiled basketry technique diversified, establishing new fibre movements in a range of remote Aboriginal communities.

November 2008 – June 2009

Utopia exhibition


The story of Emily Kame Kngwarreye, one of Australia's greatest contemporary artists. Includes audio programs and photo galleries.

August 2008 – October 2008

Australia's Greek cafe exhibition

Selling an American Dream

A photographic exhibition that explored the key role that Greek Australians played during the formative years of Australian culture.

July 2008 – November 2008

A Different Time

Drawing on the Museum's rich collection of Herbert Basedow's photographic work, produced during expeditions into central and northern Australia in the early 1900s.

11 July 2008 – 13 July 2013

Minangu Huey Bent painting the Ngurrara Canvas at Pirnini 1997.


Developed by the South Australian Museum, this exhibition centred on one of the largest and most spectacular Aboriginal Western Desert paintings: the great Ngurrara Canvas.

April 2008 – June 2008

Hidden in Plain View exhibition

Hidden in Plain View

Botanical illustrations and specimens showing the incredible diversity of fungi, lichens, mosses and liverworts. From the National Herbarium of Victoria, Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.

March 2008 – June 2008

League of Legends exhibition

League of Legends

Celebrated and examined the history of rugby league in Australia.

2008–2009 and 2012–2013

Behind the Lines 2007 exhibition

Behind the Lines 2007

The cartoons in this exhibition represented the best of our latest set of acquisitions from artists around Australia including Alan Moir, Bill Leak, Cathy Wilcox, Geoff Pryor, John Spooner and Mark Knight.

December 2007 – February 2008

Papunya Painting: out of the desert exhibition

Papunya Painting: Out of the Desert

This exhibition highlighted the National Museum's extraordinary collection of Western Desert art. The online exhibition includes a gallery of the works, biographies of the artists and stories of land, history and culture. Resources include audio programs and activities for children.

November 2007 – February 2008

Migration Memories exhibition

Migration Memories

Explored the migration stories of people from diverse backgrounds who now call the distinctively different regional centres of Lightning Ridge and Robinvale home.

September 2007 – November 2007

Australia at Expo 67 exhibition

Australia at Expo 67 Montreal

Explored the world of Australia at Canada's Expo 67 Montreal.

September 2007 – October 2007

Great railway journeys of Australia

Great Railway Journeys of Australia

Explored the development of Australia's rail network and featured some of the most famous railway journeys in the country, such as the old and new Ghan, the Queenslander and the Indian Pacific.

April 2007 – 26 August 2007

70% Urban

70% Urban

Drew on the Museum's collection to explore Indigenous culture in the city.

March 2007 – March 2008

Miss Australia: A Nation's Quest exhibition

Miss Australia

Traced the history of the Miss Australia quest from 1907, through to its final year in 2000. Resources include an image gallery of winners and an education kit.

March 2007 – June 2007

Collector Cam King exhibition

Collector Cam King

A selection of Brian and Barbara Lynch's old grocery wares and toys were displayed when they won the Collector Cam competition run by ABC Television's Collectors.

January 2007 – February 2007

Between the Flags exhibition

Between the Flags

One hundred years of surf lifesaving on Australia’s beaches, with stories of the rescued and rescuers, beach culture the lifesaver as an Australian icon.

December 2006 – March 2007

Behind the Lines 2006 exhibition

Behind the Lines 2006

The items in this exhibition represented the best of our 2006 acquisitions from cartoonists around Australia. Cartoons from major city newspapers were represented along with examples from regional publications.

December 2006 – March 2007

Beaded Links

Beaded Links

A showcase of the creative uses of beads across Commonwealth nations over many centuries.

August 2006 – February 2007

Life in the Pacific exhibition

Life in the Pacific

A documentary photographic exhibition that featured 80 works by students from Pacific Island communities.

July 2006 – September 2006

Dhari a Krar exhibition

Dhari A Krar

Dhari a Krar: Headdresses and Masks from the Torres Strait brought together a diverse collection of masks, headdresses and dance objects from the Torres Strait.

July 2006 – July 2011

Cook's Pacific Encounters exhibition

Cook's Pacific Encounters

Rarely seen Pacific artefacts collected during the voyages of Captain James Cook from the collection of the University of Gottingen, Germany.

July 2006 – September 2006

Our Land is Alive exhibition

Our Land is Alive

The Central Land Council in Alice Springs created this photographic exhibition featuring some of the highlights from the council's archival collection.

June 2006 – July 2006

Exiles and Emigrants exhibition

Exiles and Emigrants

Traced epic journeys from the United Kingdom to Australia in the Victorian era.

April 2006 – June 2006

People of the Cedar

People of the Cedar

An expression of the richness of artistic culture among the First Nation Peoples of Canada's Northwest Coast.

March 2006 – May 2006

Alt tag: A summer of cricket

A Summer of Cricket

Captured the spirit of cricket as it has been played and watched by generations of Australians. Test your knowledge of cricketing terms and try the online interactives.

March 2006 – June 2006

Captivating and Curious exhibition

Captivating and Curious

Displayed the National Museum's rich and varied collection, with new acquisitions and old favourites from the National Historical Collection.

Dec 2005 – March 2006

In Search of the Birdsville Track exhibition

In Search of the Birdsville Track

Works from the Museum's collection donated by Noelle Sandwith. Through Noelle's sketches and writings, the exhibition captured the unique environment, the characters and the lifestyles of this quintessentially Australian experience.

June 2005 – October 2005

Behind the Lines 2004 exhibition

Behind the Lines 2004

A selection of the best works entered in the 2004 competition.

March 2005 – June 2005

Behind the Lines 2003 exhibition

Behind the Lines 2003

A selection of the best works entered in the National Museum of Australia's 2003 Political Cartooning Competition.

May – June 2004

Royal Romance exhibition

Royal Romance

Examined Australia's passionate response to Queen Elizabeth II's first visit in 1954, and whether the nation has fallen out of love since. See the detailed online exhibition.

February 2004 – October 2004

Paipa exhibition


Explored Torres Strait Islander migration and the continuing strong cultural connections between mainland communities and the Torres Strait.

July 2002 – July 2006

Eternity sign


Eternity: Stories from the Emotional Heart of Australia was one of five original permanent galleries at the National Museum.

March 2001 – June 2017

Nation exhibition


From the humble Hills hoist to the legend of ANZAC, Nation took a new approach to Australian history through Australian symbols.

March 2001 – January 2010

Extremes exhibition


Explored the history, culture and commonalities of some of the world's great southern deserts in southern Africa, South America and Australia.

December 2004 – August 2005

Circa theatre exterior


Circa was a multimedia moving theatre providing Museum visitors with an overview of the galleries, the Museum's collections and Australian history. March 2001 – June 2017.

Horizons exhibition


Horizons traced incredible stories of human relocation. It looked at how migration shaped the Australia we know today, and the role governments have played.

March 2001 – October 2007