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Past exhibitions

About the awards

2015 Australian of the Year Awards

This exhibition paid tribute to the eight extraordinary Australians chosen as the 2015 Australian of the Year finalists.

17 December 2014 - 28 February 2015

Spirited: Australia's Horse Story


Explored how horses have helped to enrich our lives, built our society and shaped our environment.

11 September 2014 - 9 March 2015

Old Masters

Old Masters

Old Masters was a celebration of Australia’s greatest bark painters.

6 December 2013 - 20 July 2014

On Country: Connect, Work, Celebrate

On Country

An inspiring exhibition that showcased contemporary Indigenous land and sea management practices across Australia.

22 November 2013 - 20 July 2014

Glorious Days: Australia 1913

Glorious Days

Glorious Days: Australia 1913 featured beautiful artworks, costume, music and newsreel footage from Australia as it was in 1913.

March 2013 - October 2013

Museum Workshop exhibition

Museum Workshop

Museum Workshop examines the behind-the-scenes world of the conservators responsible for the physical care of objects in the Museum's collection.

October 2012 - January 2013



Outstanding sculptural works depicting a variety of 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

This exhibition from the American Museum of Natural History, New York presented the sights, sounds and stories of the legendary Silk Road – the most celebrated trade route for more than a thousand years.

March 2012 - July 2012

Inside: Life in Children's Homes and Institutions exhibition


Inside features the words, voices and objects of the Forgotten Australians, Former Child Migrants and those who experienced institutional care as children.

From 9 August to 16 November 2014, Queensland Museum, Brisbane

Off the Walls exhibition

Off the Walls

Off the Walls: Art from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Affairs Agencies 1967–2005 traced the history of artworks given to or acquired by federal Indigenous agencies. It included a collection of some 2000 works in the National Museum of Australia's National Historical Collection.

October 2011 - June 2012

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

Bipotaim exhibition


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

September 2011 - 27 April 2014

Symbols of Australia exhibition

Symbols of Australia

Drawn from the collection of the National Museum of Australia, the Symbols exhibition explores some of the symbols Australians have chosen to represent themselves and their nation.

August 2009 - May 2012

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

Not Just Ned

About the history and extraordinary influence of the Irish in Australia, from the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788, to the present. Includes personal reflections of Irish migrants, video and audio programs.

March 2011 - July 2011

Yalangbara: Art of the Djang'kawu


Captivating Aboriginal artworks by the Marika family from north-east Arnhem Land explored the journey of the Djang'kawu ancestors. Developed by the National Museum of Australia and the Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.

December 2010 - September 2011

Behind the Lines 2010

Behind the Lines 2010

Celebrated the wit and artistry of our established and well-loved political cartoonists as well as recognising the talents and stylistic variety of a new generation.

December 2010 - October 2011

Exploration and Endeavour exhibition

Exploration and Endeavour

Brought together rare treasures associated with voyages of scientific discovery to the South Seas, on the 350th anniversary of the Royal Society. With the Royal Society.

September 2010 - February 2011

Yiwarra Kuju exhibition

Yiwarra Kuju

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

30 July 2010 - 14 July 2013

Papunya Painting: out of the desert exhibition

Papunya Painting: Out of the Australian Desert

Papunya Painting: Out of the Australian Desert, shown at the National Art Museum of China, highlighted the National Museum of Australia's extraordinary collection of Western Desert art.

June 2010 - August 2010

tayenebe exhibition


Tayenebe, a Tasmanian Aboriginal word meaning 'exchange', celebrated the revitalisation of Tasmanian Aboriginal weaving.

March 2010 - July 2010

Water exhibition


Explored the earth's most precious resource, with a global perspective on water. From the American Museum of Natural History.

December 2009 - May 2010

Behind the Lines 2009 exhibition

Behind the Lines 2009

This exhibition featured a selection of some of the best Australian political cartoons published in 2009.

December 2009 - 31 January 2010

From Little Things Big Things Grow exhibition

From Little Things Big Things Grow

Traced the story of Indigenous and non-Indigenous activists who fought for Indigenous civil rights in Australia from 1920 to 1970. Related to Collaboration for Indigenous Rights website. Includes videotape interviews.

September 2009 - May 2012

A Fine Yarn exhibition

A Fine Yarn

An exploration of the contemporary fine wool industry in Australia, also recognising the importance of wool in the nation's 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

This exhibition explored the challenges faced by early Turkish immigrants as they settled into life in Victoria, and charted their successes and contributions to our multicultural community.

March 2009 - April 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

Behind the Lines 2008 exhibition

Behind the Lines 2008

This exhibition featured a selection of the best Australian political cartoons sourced throughout the year.

December 2008 - 1 February 2009

Darwin exhibition


Detailed the life and work of naturalist Charles Darwin, including his short but important visit to Australia in early 1836. From the American Museum of Natural History.

December 2008 - March 2009

Utopia exhibition


The exhibition tells the story of Emily Kame Kngwarreye as one of Australia's greatest contemporary artists. Includes audio programs, photo galleries and installation video.

August 2008 - October 2008

A Different Time

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

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

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

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

In 1967 Canada's Montreal welcomed more than 50 million visitors to Expo 67 over a period of six months. Forty years on, explore the world of Australia at Expo 67 Montreal in this online exhibition.

September 2007 - October 2007

Great railway journeys of Australia

Great Railway Journeys of Australia

This exhibition 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. Check out the 'Who you callin' urban?' video online or just read the transcript.

March 2007 - March 2008

Miss Australia: A Nation's Quest exhibition

Miss Australia

This exhibition 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 to 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

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

Between the Flags exhibition

Between the Flags

This exhibition celebrated the centenary of surf lifesaving in Australia. Share online stories from surf lifesavers and explore 100 years of service protecting the nation's beaches.

December 2006 - March 2007

Beaded Links

Beaded Links

Beaded Links showcased the creative uses of beads across Commonwealth nations over many centuries.

August 2006 - February 2007

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

Life in the Pacific exhibition

Life in the Pacific

A documentary photographic exhibition that featured 80 works by students from Pacific Island communities. A small selection is available online.

July 2006 - September 2006

Cook's Pacific Encounters exhibition

Cook's Pacific Encounters

This exhibition displayed 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. Limited material available online.

April 2006 - June 2006

People of the Cedar

People of the Cedar

People of the Cedar expressed 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

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

This exhibition featured 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

This exhibition is a selection of the best works entered in the 2004 competition.

March 2005 - June 2005

Extremes exhibition


Exploring 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

Behind the Lines 2003 exhibition

Behind the Lines 2003

Behind the Lines: The Year's Best Cartoons brought together a selection of the best works entered in the National Museum of Australia's 2003 Political Cartooning Competition.

May 2004 - June 2004

Royal Romance exhibition

Royal Romance

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


This exhibition explored Torres Strait Islander migration and the continuing strong cultural connections between mainland communities and the Torres Strait. Limited information available online.

July 2002 - July 2006

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

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

League of Legends exhibition

League of Legends

The exhibition celebrates and examines the history of rugby league in Australia.

2008-2009 and 2012-2013