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The Museum reopens on 29 Oct 21. See Plan your visit

Explore some of the symbols that define Australia and its people, inspired by the collection of the National Museum of Australia. The Defining Symbols of Australia exhibition is currently available for tour.

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Changing symbols of Australia

Australia is represented by many symbols. Some, like the flags, are official, enshrined in legislation. Others, like the kangaroo and wattle, have changed from popular to official symbols over time. In the 20th century, modern marvels like the Sydney Opera House joined natural wonders like Uluru as emblems of Australia.

National symbols are used to represent a distinctive national identity. Some symbols endure, others fade away and new ones emerge as attitudes and values change. Often a source of unity and pride, symbols can also divide and exclude.

These symbols were included in the earlier National Museum of Australia Symbols of Australia exhibition, on show in Canberra in 2009.

More symbols of Australia

Hosting the exhibition

Defining Symbols of Australia is an easily installed graphic panel exhibition that is suitable for all ages. It consists of made-to-order panels and plinths that can be complemented with objects from the host community’s collections. An exhibition style guide and education resource are also available.

If you are interested in hosting the exhibition, please email


Defining Symbols of Australia is a touring exhibition developed by the National Museum of Australia with support from the Museum’s donor community and the National Collecting Institutions Touring and Outreach Program. This Australian Government program aims to improve access to the national collections for all Australians.

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