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In 2005–06 business priorities 1.1 (implementation of gallery redevelopment) and 1.2 (delivery of collecting priorities, particularly historical colonial material) focused on a range of activities in collections and exhibitions. Much of this work involved implementing key actions set out in the Collections and Gallery Development Plan 2004–2008. These included:
- improving navigation and wayfinding throughout exhibition galleries
- refurbishing and enhancing permanent exhibitions with new panels and displays
- commencing work on a new film production for the Circa theatre
- commencing development of two new permanent galleries: Australian Journeys, and Creating a Country
- implementing a new Collections Development Plan to guide collecting activities
- developing a research plan to heighten the Museum's standing as a centre for scholarship and ideas.
Signage and navigational materials were improved to assist visitors in finding areas of interest within the Museum. New modules and displays were included in permanent galleries, and the Museum's Council approved a conceptual brief for the full redevelopment of two galleries due for installation in 2008 and 2009: Australian Journeys, and Creating a Country (currently known as Horizons and Nation). Teams were established to undertake the development of these new galleries. Research and development of the script treatment for the new Circa film program were completed and planning for its installation in 2007 began.
Council approved a new Collections Development Plan, which updated and integrated the former Collections Development Policy and Framework. Research activities were boosted by the introduction of new staff scholarships and visiting research fellowships, and a range of work with academic interests was undertaken in research programs funded by the Australian Research Council.
New staff were recruited to the curatorial section, with teams established to undertake major works related to collections and gallery development. The Collections Development team delivered a major exhibition, Captivating and Curious, in December 2005, which showcased the diversity and strengths of the National Historical Collection. The Curatorial team was also expanded in early 2006 to undertake work on further assessment and documentation of the collection. Operating procedures for collections work were reviewed and streamlined, with additional changes planned in 2006–07.
The Gallery Development team undertook a significant number of object changeovers in the Nation and Horizons galleries, with the installation of new modules on the European discovery and settling of Australia, the history of Australian sport, the development of the Holden — Australia's first domestically manufactured car — and the role and relevance of mining in the Australian economy.