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15 June 2021

Tim and Gina Fairfax support children’s passion for Australian history and museums

Leading Australian philanthropists Mr Tim Fairfax AC and Mrs Gina Fairfax have supported the development of a new dedicated children’s play and education space at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, which will open in October 2021. In recognition of this major gift, the space will be named the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre.

In the latest example of philanthropic support for the Australian arts and cultural sector, the Fairfaxes have supported the development of a groundbreaking new curated learn and play space, where children and families can discover Australian history through storytelling and play, building a lifelong love of museums in the process.

National Museum Director Dr Mathew Trinca AM thanked Tim and Gina Fairfax for their generosity.

‘The new Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Centre will encapsulate the National Museum’s vision to engage children of all ages in Australia’s remarkable story and to foster understanding and curiosity through engagement and play,’ said Dr Trinca.

‘The launch of this centre in 2021 would not have been possible without the generous support of Tim and Gina Fairfax and we thank them for their advocacy of this project and the Museum.

‘After the challenging times we have faced as a nation, it is fantastic and humbling to receive such a public endorsement of the value of the arts and cultural sector to all Australians.’

Mr Tim Fairfax AC and Mrs Gina Fairfax said they are delighted to support the new Discovery Centre.

‘This new centre will inspire and engage children of all ages providing interactive educational play onsite and facilities to reach regional and remote communities,’ said Mr and Mrs Fairfax.

The National Museum is grateful for the support it has received from Australia’s philanthropic and business sector. This support enables the Museum to realise its vision: to bring to life through objects, exhibitions and programming, the stories of a nation and its peoples.

In October 2020, the Museum launched its Australian Defining Moments Digital Classroom taking Australian history into classrooms across the country, which was made possible by the generous $1.5-million donation by John Gandel AC and Pauline Gandel AC.

In September 2020, the Museum received a $7-million donation of thousands of objects of historical and cultural significance from the Trevor Kennedy Collection, as well as purchasing an additional $8-million worth of items of Australian historical and decorative arts from the collection. These objects will become a part of the National Historical Collection (NHC) for all Australians to enjoy.

Discovery Centre – background

The new Discovery Centre will feature two key areas, a curated Play and Learn Space, for children under 6 years and their carers, and a digitally networked multipurpose Maker and Shaper Space, for children and adults, community and access groups.

Digital rendered image of a modern exhibition space with children and carers interacting with pod shaped vessels, costumes and books.

Artist’s impression of the Wambuwyuny grasslands area of the new Discovery Centre

Play and Learn Space

The curated Play and Learn Space will foster young children’s learning through self-guided and facilitated play and crafts themed around animal characters and landscapes in Australia’s history and collective imagination including the bunyip; the Torres Strait Island legend of Gelam; explorer Mathew Flinders' cat, Trim; and Chris the sheep – the woolliest sheep in the world.

Maker and Shaper Space

The Maker and Shaper Space will be a digitally networked, multipurpose area designed for children and adults, community and access groups. The space will host a mixture of facilitated programming, self-guided maker and digital activities during Museum opening hours and after hours.

Experts from rural and remote communities will have opportunity to lead classes onsite at the National Museum. Equally, National Museum staff will be able to connect digitally with remote and regional communities.

Mr Tim Fairfax AC – background

Mr Tim Fairfax AC is a Company Director, pastoralist and philanthropist. Throughout his life Mr Fairfax has served in a variety of roles with a wide range of organisations.

He is Chairman of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation and Foundation for Rural & Regional Renewal. He is the Director and past Chairman of the Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation, and Director of Australian Philanthropic Services.

Mr Fairfax is the President of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Foundation, and a member of the National Portrait Gallery Foundation, National Gallery of Australia Foundation and Australian Schools Plus.

Mr Fairfax is an advocate for philanthropy and a major supporter of the visual arts. He is passionate about supporting rural, remote and regional communities.

In 2014 Mr Fairfax was made a Companion of the Order of Australia for his eminent services to business and the community, and in 2016 he became Queensland Senior Australian of the Year.

Mr Fairfax’s giving has changed the landscape of philanthropy in Australia. This has been recognised through two high-profile awards: Creative Partnerships Australia Philanthropy Leadership Award 2018 and The Queensland Community Foundation – Community Philanthropist of the Year 2018.

Over the past 5 years, through their family foundation, the Fairfaxes have gifted more than $25-million (Australian Financial Review Philanthropy 50) to arts, education and community initiatives. Over many decades they have supported organisations across the county including the National Portrait Gallery, Museum of Tropical Queensland, Australian Ballet, National Gallery of Australia, Queensland Art Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art and Rockhampton Museum of Art.

Mr Fairfax is particularly dedicated to providing opportunities for young people, offering funding for scores of events and programs, supplying various scholarships and enabling initiatives including Musica Viva in Schools, the Fair Education Program, the play space at the National Gallery of Australia in Canberra, as well as children’s and schools’ programs at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra.

Mrs Gina Fairfax – background

Mrs Gina Fairfax is a committed pastoralist and philanthropist. Like her husband, Mr Tim Fairfax AC, she has long been an advocate for philanthropy and a supporter of the visual arts as well as rural, remote and regional communities.

Mrs Fairfax was born in Toowoomba, Queensland and attended boarding school in Armidale, New South Wales. During her early career, Mrs Fairfax worked as a Tresillian Nurse. In 1977 she married Tim Fairfax and together they have 4 daughters. The family lived at ‘Rawbelle’, Monto, until moving to Brisbane in 1997.

In addition to her role as Trustee of the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation, Mrs Fairfax has supported and been involved in a range of charities and organisations, including:

  • President of the Breast & Prostate Cancer Association of Queensland
  • Trustee of the Queensland Art Gallery
  • Director of Rawbelle Management Pty Ltd
  • Partner of Strathbogie Pastoral Company
  • Involved in various charities including Meals on Wheels

Media contact: Tracy Sutherland 0438 620 710 or media@nma.gov.au

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