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19 March 2003

One of Australia's foremost historians, Professor John Mulvaney, will reflect on the tangled history that led to the creation of the National Museum of Australia in a lecture this week to mark the Museum's second anniversary.

Professor Mulvaney is Emeritus Professor of Pre-History at the Australian National University and was personally involved in the Museum's creation as a member of the Pigott Inquiry on Museums and National Collections 1974-75, and the NMA Interim Council in 1981-82. He was also a consultant in developing policy guidelines for exhibition objectives and content.

In The Curious History of the National Museum, Professor Mulvaney will focus on the struggle to ensure that the Museum was built and tell the social history of Australia in an entertaining way.

His lecture, sponsored by the Friends of the NMA, coincides with a review of the Museum' exhibitions and public programs.

'Years ago, when I was with the Pigott inquiry, we concluded that too many museums concentrate on certainty and dogma,' says Professor Mulvaney.

'We recommended a new national museum should include controversial issues to stimulate thought. This infant institution has been successful in that.'

Professor Mulvaney will talk about writing the blueprint for the Museum 25 years ago in the Pigott report, the campaign of the Friends of the NMA to establish the Museum, the decision on the current site, and the approaches of various governments to the Museum, its collections and exhibitions.

'We're very pleased Professor Mulvaney has agreed to help us celebrate the Museum's second birthday in this thoughtful way,' says Carolyn Forster, president of the Friends of the NMA. 'He's well placed to document how the Museum came into existence, and to help us look forward to its future.'

Professor Mulvaney's lecture takes place outdoors in the Garden of Australian Dreams at the National Museum, on Thursday, 20 March, from 6 to 7.30pm.

For bookings, ring the Friends of the NMA on 6208 5048.
Cost: $7.50 per person; Friends: $5. Birthday refreshments will be served.

For media enquiries - or interviews - please contact Sandy Forbes, National Museum of Australia, on 6208 5301, 0408 679 308 or email

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