Museums in Australia
Entrance to Museum of Australian Democracy Eureka (MADE) in Ballarat, Victoria
Museums hold our collective memory. They help us understand the world around us and nourish our sense of creative possibility. Australia has many fine museums which provide exciting experiences both online and face to face. There are more than 2,000 museums, galleries, sites and holdings in Australia.
Australian museums are engaged in a prolific era of change and development. Museums now increasingly present a variety of narratives or stories, reflecting on themselves as part of the colonial framework and reviewing their collection practices.
They are now seen less as buildings and more as multi-faceted arrays of activities. Museums actively communicate with their audience across wider geographic areas, making their collections available in new ways. New collaborative relationships have been developed with the Indigenous communities from whom came many of the original artefacts.
Undertaking conservation stitching of Eureka Flag, Art Gallery of Ballarat. Courtesy of MADE
Globalisation itself has affected museum practice, with curators and exhibitions more frequently travelling internationally. Museums have increasingly entered into significant partnerships with corporate sponsors. Key new museums have recently emerged, including the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, the Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane, the MCA in Sydney and the Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) in Hobart, and the regional art galleries sector has developed markedly.
The Museum of Australian Democracy Eureka (MADE) is a new museum in Ballarat, Victoria, near the site of the Eureka Stockade and its battle in 1854, during the gold rushes, seen as the birthplace of Australian democracy. The Museum
explores many concepts: what it means to be an effective, engaged Australian; how we can create a more inclusive and connected society in a digital era; how we can thrive as a nation through harnessing our creativity and energy; and, what we can offer to a globalised world.
Museum of Australian Democracy Eureka
Like many other museums, MADE deals with a highly contested historical event or events that have provoked debate and discussion for more than 150 years. Like the Eureka Stockade, museums have grown to symbolise not only history and cultural heritage but also change. The Museum represents these ideas in a range of new technologies and interactive forms of engagement.
Collection management at the National Museum of Australia. Courtesy of NMA
However, the presentation of the iconic Eureka flag, on loan from the Art Gallery of Ballarat, represents not only the creativity and ingenuity of its attributed design by miner 'Captain' Ross and the skill of the miners' wives in sewing its form but also the dedication of private family collectors, historians, collection managers, conservators and restorers. It is this continuous link of care and ascribed value that has allowed future generations to explore and understand for themselves the historical events that have shaped their lives.
This is true for the material collections of many smaller museums which require the support of an army of dedicated volunteers, as well as seeking the support desired from professional experts, if they are to continue the preservation and presentation of Australia's material culture.
What is a museum?
The Museums Australia Constitution (2002) defines a museum as an institution which:
helps people understand the world by using objects and ideas to interpret the past and present and explore the future. A museum preserves and researches collections, and makes objects and information accessible in actual and virtual environments. Museums are established in the public interest as permanent, not-for-profit organisations that contribute long-term value to communities.
- science, history and art museums, including galleries and keeping places
- monuments and sites of a natural, archaeological, ethnographic or historical nature
- institutions holding collections of plants and animals, including botanical and zoological gardens
- science centres
- cultural centres that contain resources for living heritage and digital creative activity
- other institutions with some or all of the characteristics of a museum
The Canberra Fire Museum at Forrest, ACT showing its working fire engines at its open day, 15 June 2013, image by Kathryn Wells.
Australian museums vary from the small, the privately owned, and community museums, to large, government enterprises. Each has its own important place in making Australian heritage come alive and preserving our past for future generations.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2002 there were 1,389 museums, 411 historic properties, and 249 art galleries in Australia. There were also botanic gardens at 123 locations (2000) featuring Australia's flora; 53 zoological parks and 12 aquariums (1997). There are eight state libraries and one National Library.
The national organisation for the museums sector is Museums Australia. It offers many resources, including its magazine, available online, and hosts an annual national conference which attracts 500 or more delegates from around Australia and worldwide. Museum Directors have an advocacy and funding organisation through the Council of Australasian Museum Directors.
Museums as online resources and archives
A member using the Barossa Museum Archives Room. The museum is a former 1865 Post Office, now portraying the area's German heritage. Courtesy of the Barossa Museum.
The Collections Australia Network (CAN) portal was the public gateway to collecting institutions across Australia including the small to medium regional institutions. With more than 1,700 Australian museums listed, collection details of an immense number of objects, and news and discussion, the CAN website was a hub for museum activities until it was closed, although the website is still managed by the Powerhouse Museum.
As digital technology is creatively applied, access to the collections is becoming more fluid, varied and exhilarating. The use of apps to interpret not only exhibitions but cityscapes and walking tours at the Powerhouse Museum, and rapid searching of the actual text of 19th century newspapers through Trove at the National Library of Australia, are just two examples.
In 2010, the former Collections Council of Australia (2004–10) published a guide, Signifance 2 (PDF 3.67MB) to assist museums in assessing the significance of collections. Significance was defined as the meanings and values of a cultural heritage item or collection based on research and analysis, and by assessment against a standard set of criteria. They also established inaugural National standards for museums and galleries (2007) for managing a museum, involving the community and developing a significant collection.
The Council established Now and Then, a community heritage website that enables local communities to record, share and explore information about their history and life today. It has been developed by Gawler, Mallala and Willunga communities in South Australia.
Evolution of Australian museums
Contemplating a dinosaur skeleton at the Australian Museum, Sydney. Courtesy the Museum.
The Colonial Museum, 1827–
Historically, museums played a key role in the process of colonising Australia. They collected and classified objects from Australia's natural world and from its indigenous cultures, thus positioning the continent within the world view of European science. Australian collections were sent to Charles Darwin and contributed to the development of his theory of evolution by natural selection.
A museum was founded in each colony in turn, all modelled on London's Natural History Museum. The first, in 1827, was the Australian Museum in Sydney, initially called the Colonial Museum. Some were founded by gentleman collectors. Later, state funding and often vice-regal patronage followed.
Museums of science and technology, 1870s–
Beam engine at the Powerhouse Museum
Museums of science and technology emerged in the 1870s and 80s. These showcased examples of technology and craftsmanship, desiring to educate larger popular audiences about the virtues and benefits of industry. They were modelled on London's Victoria and Albert Museum, and were influenced by the rise of industry and the international exhibitions of that era. The great beam engine designed by James Watt – which now commands the entrance to the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney – was an inspirational object typical of these museums.
Social history museums 1970s–
Following the Victorian heyday of museums there was a period of relative stasis, but in the mid 1970s a new phase of growth and change began. New and re-shaped museums reflected a rising interest in social history. The emphasis shifted to creating experiences of what life was like in the past. Examples include the Pioneer Women's Hut in Tumbarumba, NSW, and South Australia's suite of social history museums, including its Maritime Museum, in which visitors re-enter the world of the colonial immigrant. The interest in social history continued in the development of the National Museum of Australia (opened 2001) and the Melbourne Museum (2000). (G Davison, J Hirst and S Macintyre eds, ,The Oxford Companion to Australian History, Revised Edition, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, 2001, pp 450-51)
Science and history museums
Powerhouse Museum, NSW
View to the Powerhouse Museum
The Powerhouse Museum, in Sydney, is the one of the largest and most popular museums in Australia. Its collection of over 500,000 objects spans history, science, technology, design, industry, decorative arts, music, transport and space exploration.
It presents 22 permanent exhibitions, several temporary exhibitions, and over 250 interactives, all based on the ideas and technologies that have changed our world. A visit can include science experiments, virtual reality 3D theatres, performances and fascinating lectures. Learning and creativity are a strong focus.
Digital resources include mobile apps such as Layar, which allows you to walk around Sydney and discover how it looked 100 years ago, and a huge database with detailed information on the objects in the collection.
National Museum of Australia, Canberra
The National Museum of Australia, opened in March 2001, is a social history museum. The building is an architectural landmark inspired by the idea of a jigsaw puzzle, reflecting the many intertwined stories of Australia and Australians.
School students from regional and remote Australia will soon be able to visit the Museum virtually using mobile telepresence technology. They will be able to interact with a museum facilitator through a robot equipped with an omni-directional camera, thanks to an innovative partnership with CSIRO and the Department of Communications.
Australian War Memorial, Canberra
Federation Guard dawn service at the Hall of Memory, Australian War Memorial. Courtesy of the Department of Defence
The largest and most successful history museum in the country is the Australian War Memorial. Over half of Australia's inventory of heritage items are located here. The Memorial commemorates the sacrifice of Australians who have died in war and assists Australians to understand the experience of war. It was initiated by Australia's official war historian C E W Bean and John Treloar. The memorial provides ready means to search its vast archive online for documentation on particular servicemen and servicewomen.
Displays provide direct evidence of the lives of the men and women who served and died for Australia. The Gallipoli gallery about the ANZACs, for example, uses original letters, photographs, diaries and artworks to follow the campaign from the departure of the first convoy to evacuation in December 1915.
Local nationally significant history museums
Dingley Dell Cottage and Museum, near Port MacDonnell, South Australia, rear view image by Kathryn Wells.
There are nearly two thousand small regional local museums across Australia. These range from local history museums covering broad histories, like the Millicent town museum to highly specialised museums like the house 'Dingley Dell Cottage' near Port MacDonnell, in South Australia.
Dingley Dell belonged to Australia's first bush poet Adam Lindsay Gordon and the museum depicts his life as a poet and renowned horseman. Dingley Dell Cottage and Heritage Museum became the first building to be listed on the South Australia Heritage Register in 1980 and its purchase in 1922 makes the cottage the oldest government-owned historical residence in South Australia.
The local nature of these museums belies their national significance in the breadth of individual stories they have to tell. Examples are the only way to indicate the dedicated value of these museums.
McCrossin's Mill Museum, Uralla
McCrossin's Mill Museum, Uralla, near Armidale NSW, is owned outright and operated by Uralla Historical Society Inc., whose members all work on a voluntary basis. Housed in a restored granite and brick flour mill, McCrossin's Mill is a multi-award winning museum and gallery. Upstairs its collection of Chinese artefacts from the Rocky River goldfields and a near-complete Chinese Joss House is recognised as being of national significance.
Chinese Joss House in the McCrossin's Mill Museum originally came from the Rocky River goldfields, Uralla. Courtesy of the Museum
The downstairs is dedicated to the story of Captain Thunderbolt (Frederick Ward), one of the last roaming bushrangers in NSW, who lived around Uralla. In addition to paintings by Philip Chauncey, artefacts belonging to Thunderbolt include the table on which his body was laid out in Uralla courthouse.
Another exhibition 'Trickett's Triumph' tells the story of rower Ned Trickett, a 'forgotten piece of Australian history' about the son of a convict who became Australia's first world champion. The museum holds Trickett's world championship rowing trophy, bought by Museum director Kent Mayo out of his own pocket after a six-year hunt, and the rower's massive headstone.
Trickett's cup is the most iconic object in Australia's sporting history. They all say, 'Don Bradman's bat' or the 'Melbourne Cup', but there are at least 120 Melbourne Cups already, and 50 Don Bradman bats, and there's only one of these. When he defeated the Englishman, the English press went into shock. If they'd known he was the son of a convict, the shame would've been even greater.
Julie Power, If you're not of a small mind, this museum will delight and enlighten, Sydney Morning Herald, 24 August, 2013
Sciencentre at Queensland Museum
There are no visitors at the Sciencentre – everyone is a participant. The goal is to reveal the science and technology behind our everyday lives. 'Try it, use it, move it, see it, hear it – there is an astounding array of exhibits and something to see and do at every turn'. Sciencecentre is part of Brisbane's Cultural Centre precinct on the Brisbane River across from the Central Business District.
Visiting Questacon. Courtesy of Compass Tours
Questacon is the National Science and Technology Centre, promoting understanding of science and technology in the community. It has more than 200 interactive exhibits and is devoted to inspiring the children of Australia to love science. The Centre also features a number of performance spaces, used for presentations for general public and student audiences.
Each year, 400,000 visitors come to its Centre in Canberra, while another 660,000 see its exhibitions in other museums and centres around Australia and overseas. Its Outreach Programs visit a further 110,000 people in towns and communities across the country.
The sea had a profound influence on the lives of earlier Australians. Many shipwrecks and lighthouses attest to the fearful sections of Australia's coastline. Australia's maritime history under sail has contributed greatly to its development from the naming of the continent through its first industry of whaling to a vast mercantile or commercial shipping legacy. Collections Australia Network lists 31 maritime museums, including the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney and five state maritime museums, but in addition, local and regional museums often hold collections closely connected with the sea. The Museum of Tropical Queensland and the Eden Killer Whale Museum are good examples.
Maritime Museum of Tasmania
Holding an image of collecting firewood, Constitution Dock, Customs House in background, circa 1890 (MMT), on Constitution Dock, Hobart, image by Erika Shankley and courtesy of ABC.
Surrounding the island state, the sea is significant to all Tasmanians. The Maritme Museum of Tasmania offers displays about Aboriginal watercraft, early European explorers and whalers and is an example of the urban renewal of maritime buildings. You can learn how important sailing and steam ships were for developing Tasmanian industries that exported the raw materials and products of the islands, such as apples, minerals and timber. Intriguing artefacts on display are the companionway hatch from the Otago, once captained by writer Joseph Conrad, and a convict built dinghy.
The Maritime Museum of Tasmania is housed diagonally opposite Constitution Dock, that welcome haven for yachts competing in the annual Sydney-Hobart yacht race. The Museum offers guided tours of the dock area. The Museum is largely run by volunteers.
Eden Killer Whale Museum
Whale boat dinghy, Eden Killer Whale Museum
Established in 1931, the Museum's collection was originally based around the skeleton of the killer whale Old Tom, which is well steeped in local folklore. The Museum's prime theme is the whaling industry. The secondary theme is general maritime and fishing while the third interest is the timber industry and local social history.
Western Australian Maritime Museum
Perched on the Indian Ocean's shore, the Western Australian Maritime Museum is symbolic of Fremantle's past and future as a coastal city, port and docklands. From leisure boats and handcrafted sailing boats to commercial pearl luggers, the maritime museum inspires visitors to discover Western Australia's affinity with the ocean.
The people bordering the Indian Ocean have been linked by trade and the exchange of ideas for thousands of years, and the Museum traces the paths of these maritime travellers. The maritime museum is home to the winning America's Cup yacht, Australia II; an Oberon class submarine, HMAS Ovens; Jon Sanders' Parry Endeavour and many other iconic vessels.
Museum of Tropical Queensland, Townsville – Pandora Gallery
Children enjoying exploring the HMS Pandora canon. Courtesy of Museum of Tropical Queensland
The Pandora exhibition is the main attraction at the Museum of Tropical Queensland. Visitors will be captivated by the story of the ill-fated HMS Pandora. The British Admiralty sent the Pandora in pursuit of the Bounty and her mutinous crew. On her return voyage, having captured 14 of the mutineers in Tahiti, the Pandora struck the Great Barrier Reef and she sank in 1791. See artefacts, film re-enactments and be part of 'running the gun' at the Museum of Tropical Queensland.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), Sydney
The Museum of Contemporary Art opened in 1991, established through a bequest by Australian expatriate artist John Power (1881–1943). It is housed in an Art Deco building on the western side of Circular Quay, originally built for the Maritime Services Board. Major redevelopments were completed in 2012. The MCA is dedicated to exhibiting, collecting and interpreting the work of today's artists.
It has been an innovative influence in Australia, strongly influenced in turn by the directions of the Tate Modern which opened in London in 2000. The Museum has made legal arrangements to be custodians of Aboriginal works from Maningrida, held in trust for the originating community.
Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane
The 6th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art (APT6). Courtesy of the Queensland Government.
The Gallery of Modern Art opened in 2006 and complements the Queensland Art Gallery building. It focuses on the art of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries and is a leader in its field in Australia. One of its initiatives is the Asia-Pacific Triennial, the Art Gallery's flagship contemporary art event, the only major exhibition series to focus exclusively on the contemporary art of Asia, the Pacific and Australia.
Since the first Triennial in 1993, more than 2.3 million people have visited the exhibitions, with the most recent, APT7 in 2012-13 celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first APT. The APT is distinguished from other international art biennials and triennials by its extensive acquisition program and commissioning focus. The Gallery is one of few public institutions to collect both contemporary Asian and Pacific art and it has built these collections in tandem with the APT series.
The Arts Centre Melbourne Performing Arts Collection
The Arts Centre Melbourne holds the Performing Arts Collection – a significant collection relating to the history of circus, dance, music, theatre and opera. The collection is now home to over 600,000 items including costumes, archives, designs, photographs and much more. It is now possible to browse over 50,000 object records from the Performing Arts Collection that are currently available online.
The Performing Arts Collection plays a key role in the preservation of circus material and traditions in Australia. The circus collection includes costumes, props, posters and photographs representing many of Australia's best-loved traditional circuses. These include the Ashton family circuses, Holden Brothers', Perry Brothers and Sole Brothers' circuses that were part of a way of life in regional Australia until the First World War. The collection also holds material from the internationally regarded Wirths' circus which featured May Wirth, the world's most accomplished equestrienne bare back rider. The Arts Centre Melbourne today stands on the site of Wirths' circus.
Museum of Old and New (MONA) – Hobart
Exterior display, MONA
Australia's largest privately owned art gallery, the provocative MONA, opened in Hobart in January 2011. MONA's owner, businessman David Walsh, has described it as a subversive adult Disneyland. The exhibition 'Theatre of the World', on show into 2014
rejects the widely held notion that ancient and contemporary works of art are inherently different … the viewer sees the object, and that is enough… Theatre of the World has, as its backbone, the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery collection of Pacific barkcloths and MONA's collection of everything. Other sources are tapped when required to enhance the perceptual interplay, or on whim.
Rather than having a label on the wall for each image, visitors are provided with an MP3 player containing multiple accounts of the art objects, including David Walsh's own.
Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT)
Senior curator of Aboriginal art Christiane Keller at the 2012 opening of the Telstra NATSIAA at MAGNT, image by Brad Fleet, courtesy of MAGNT and the Northern Territory News.
A tropical garden on Darwin Harbour is the primary location for the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory. The Museum interprets its collections of Territory Aboriginal art and material culture, visual arts, craft, Southeast Asian and Oceanic art, maritime archaeology, history and natural sciences.
MAGNT established the annual Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Award in 1984. The award is open to artists from anywhere in the country and is famed for presenting diversity and innovation in contemporary Aboriginal art. MAGNT tours exhibitions within the Territory, nationally and internationally.
Armidale and Region Aboriginal Cultural Centre and Keeping Place
From the 1970s, a new model of relations between public museums and indigenous communities began to emerge. Before that, there had been minimal contact between museum staff and the Indigenous creators of the objects. Then a model of Aboriginal involvement and sometimes partnership developed.
The Australian Museum (Sydney) was one institution which responded, through its pioneering 'Outreach' program, whereby objects are returned, either permanently or as loans, to keeping places and cultural centres run by local Indigenous communities…
A keeping place can range in size and scope from a cabinet containing material culture or photographs housed in the local public library, to a freestanding purpose-built centre, such as Brewarrina Aboriginal Cultural Museum (NSW), that serves as a meeting place, study centre, repository for material culture and historical material, and encompasses a museum display for visitors …
many keeping places now also function as cultural tourism and education outlets, as at Minjungbal Cultural Centre in Tweed Heads and Umbarra Aboriginal Cultural Centre, Wallaga Lake (NSW).
S Kleinert, M Neale eds, Oxford Companion to Aboriginal Art and Heritage, Oxford University Press, 2000
Sites and monuments – natural, archaeological, ethnographic and historical
HMAS Sydney II Memorial, Geraldton, Western Australia
The propeller of the HMS Sydney set in granite amidst a sphere of sea-gulls
The HMAS Sydney II Memorial honours the 645 Australian sailors who were lost off the Western Australian coast during a World War II battle with a German raider, the raider HSK Kormoran, in November 1941. The two wrecks were not found until March 2008.
The memorial has five symbolic elements including a silver dome of 645 seagulls to represent each of the lost sailors from HMS Sydney II. The wall of remembrance on the perimeter records names of the Sydney crew and to the north, a bronze statue of a woman gazes desperately out to sea as she awaits news of the ill-fated Sydney. (Geraldton Visitors Centre, HMS Sydney II Memorial)
Shark Bay Interpretive Centre – Denham, Western Australia
Shark Bay Interpretive Centre. Courtesy of Woodhead International
The town of Denham is the site where Dutch explorer Dirk Hartog landed in 1616, the first European to land on the Australian coast and, along with other mariners and navigators, helped in mapping Australia's coastline by Europeans. Denham is situated in the World Heritage area of Shark Bay. The new Shark Bay Interpretative Centre showcases the region's history and natural heritage through innovative design. The project was a whole-of-government collaboration with architect John Nichols of Woodhead International and design of the internal exhibition spaces by Susan Freeman of Freeman Ryan Design.
The design acknowledges the elemental forces of the locality – wind, waves and salt – while forming three exhibition spaces: Living Place, Mapping Place and Experiencing Place. The centre explores the area's World Heritage listing, marine and terrestrial landforms and animals, and extraordinary Indigenous and European history.
Historic houses allow us to enter into the interior worlds of earlier lives, explore the development of domestic design, and experience the physical presence of buildings which impacted upon people, including police stations and gaols. The National Trust branch in each state manages a series of historic houses, and in NSW the Sydney Living Museums is a leader in conservation and management.
David Mitchell, the Mitchell Library and Australiana
The Mitchell Library was established in 1907 by David Scott Mitchell (1836–1907), a wealthy and obsessive collector of books, who bequeathed his collection of Australian books, pictures, records and other items, numbering in the tens of thousands, to the Trustees of the State Library of New South Wales. Mitchell's collection was, and continues to be, important to the people of Australia because it focused on Australian documents, books and art – creating Australiana as a category of understanding and thinking. Over the years it has helped Australians define themselves and understand the history of settlement in Australia.
National Library of Australia, Canberra
Map room at the National Library of Australia. Courtesy of the ABC
The National Library of Australia holds the greatest collection in the world of material relating to Australia. It contains not only books but also archived websites, ephemera, manuscripts, maps, music, magazines newspapers, oral history and folklore, pictures and also Asian and Pacific collections. For example, the dance collection includes personal papers of dancers, including travel documents and albums; oral history interviews with Australians involved in dance; photos and other pictures of dance; and notated dance scores.
Trove is the Library's revolutionary and free digital search service. With millions of items, Trove is an amazing and highly accessible source of Australian material. It is relevant if you are tracing your family history, researching, studying, or just exploring for the sheer enjoyment of it.
Among the library's exhibitions was 'The Life of Patrick White' in 2012. Marking the centenary of the birth of the Nobel Laureate author, the exhibition drew mostly from the Library's enormous collection of White's papers – which exist in spite of the fact that White insisted he had destroyed them all – and considered his life through the places he lived.
Other kinds of collections
Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs, NT
Olive Pink Botanic Garden tour, courtesy of Olive Pink Botanic Garden
The Olive Pink Botanic Garden opened to the public in 1985 but was founded in 1956 by Miss Olive Pink (1884-1975), a botanical illustrator, anthropologist, gardener and trailblazing land rights activist and environmentalist.
Olive Pink's original plantings form the basis of the garden. More than 450 Central Australian plant taxa are in this garden. Of these, 145 occur naturally in bushland on two rocky hills. About 30 rare or threatened species are represented. Visitors can follow a web of trails around the collection and onto Annie Myers Hill with its wonderful views. The gardens also host art exhibitions, film festivals, and panel discussions, festivals and courses.
Australian Opal Centre, Lightening Ridge NSW
An extraordinary new opal and fossil museum is being developed in the outback at Lightening Ridge NSW. In 2010 the Australian Opal Centre collection contained more than 4000 opalised fossils.
The Australian Opal Centre
offer a fossil identification service, information about opal and mining and education programs for local schools and adult groups. The centre is home to a collection of opalised dinosaur fossils which [Centre project manager] Jenni says is the most popular part of the museum, especially with children. Australia is the only country in the world that produces opalised fossils
Justin Huntsdale, High hopes for underground opal centre, ABC, 25 January, 2010
International Museum Day
The scope of the collection at the South Australian Migration Museum preserves, documents and interprets the cultural diversity of South Australia. Courtesy of SAMM
Every year since 1977, International Museum Day is held worldwide around 18 May. Watch for events at this time in museums near you. The theme for 2014 is 'Museum collections make connections'. The theme reminds us that museums are living institutions that help create bonds between visitors, generations and cultures around the world. Many museums are now revamping the traditional methods of collection presentation in order to involve the community and to remain in touch with their public. International Museum Day was established by the International Council of Museums (ICOM) to increase public awareness of the role of museums in developing society.
In 2012, the World Heritage Convention celebrated 40 years of UNESCO's important role in finding invaluable things that might be clearly shown or might be hidden, researching them, communicating them to the world and preserving them.
Look listen and play
- Join in and contribute to Now and Then, a community heritage website developed by Gawler, Mallala and Willunga communities in South Australia
- Listen to ABC Radio National,The Story of the Mitchell Library, download audio
- Play ABC News, World's greatest maps on show at National Library in Canberra – gallery of images and interactive
Mobile applications and augmented browsing of museum collections
- Powerhouse Museum, Layar
- National Library of Australia, Trove
- National Museum of Australia, Robot tours
National collecting Institutions
- Australian National Maritime Museum
- Australian War Memorial
- National Archives of Australia
- National Film and Sound Archive
- National Gallery of Australia
- National Library of Australia
- National Museum of Australia
- National Portrait Gallery
- Museum of Australian Democracy (Old Parliament House)
Select state collecting institutions
- Arts Centre Melbourne and the Performing Arts Collection
- Australian Museum, Sydney
- Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane
- Museum of Tropical Queensland
- Maritime Museum of Tasmania
- History SA, Migration Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA), Sydney
- Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT), Darwin
- Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Powerhouse Museum), Sydney
- State Library of New South Wales
- South Australian Maritime Museum
- Queensland Museum, Sciencentre
- Western Australian Maritime Museum
Select regional, local and other collections
- Art Gallery of Ballarat, Vic
- Australian Opal Centre, Lightening Ridge. NSW
- Brewarrina Aboriginal Cultural Museum, NSW
- Dingley Dell Cottage and Heritage Museum, near Port MacDonnell, South Australia
- Eden Killer Whale Museum, Eden. NSW
- HMAS Sydney II Memorial, Geraldton. WA
- McCrossin's Mill Museum, Uralla, near Armidale NSW, owned and operated by Uralla Historical Society Inc
- Minjungbal Cultural Centre, Tweed Heads. NSW
- Museum of Australian Democracy Eureka (MADE), Ballarat, Victoria
- Museum of Old and New (MONA), Hobart
- Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs. Northern Territory
- Pioneer Women's Hut, Tumbarumba, NSW
- Questacon, the National Science and Technology Centre, Canberra, ACT
- Shark Bay Interpretative Centre, Denham, Western Australia
Peak bodies and resources
- Museums Australia
- Collections Australia Network (CAN) archive at Powerhouse Museum
- Collections Council of Australia (2004-2010) - archived site
- Collections Council of Australia, Signifance 2 (PDF 3.67MB)
- International Council of Museums (ICOM)
- Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions (2005)
- Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2003)
- Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage (2001)
- World Heritage Convention (1972)
- UNESCO, Protecting our heritage and fostering creativity, information
- UNESCO newsletter, Museums: New Challenges, 2007
Last updated: 29 October 2013
Creators: Kathryn Wells