Canberra’s National Museum of Australia

Australia has numerous museums. I hope to visit one day soon. I decided to check Australia’s, Canberra’s National Museum out. They have three statements under Vision, Mission, and Values. Their strategic commitments invest, challenge, explore and connect across all aspects of their business (, 2021).


Canberra’s National Museum of Australia.The Garden of Australian Dreams,Louise Docker, Retrieved Feb 6, 2021 from
Margo Neale, National Museum’s lead Indigenous curator with Minyipuru at Pangkal by Mulyatingki Marney, Nancy Nyanjilpayi Chapman and May Wokka Chapman, Martumili Artists, Songlines: Tracking the Seven Sisters showcases five Indigenous Western and Central desert songlines, utilising around 300 paintings and photographs, objects, song, dance and multimedia to narrate the story of the Seven Sisters and the creation of this continent as they travelled from west to east. Retrieved Feb 7, 2021 from

Purpose statement: “The Museum was established to develop and maintain the National Historical Collection for the benefit of the nation, and to bring to life the rich and diverse stories of Australia” (, 2021). One may argue, this may be a mission statement. However, I found that although each statement provides information, it can be quite lengthy and not every visitor would take the time to read each one. Visitors have all sorts of reasons to visit a museum for example getting everyone out of the house to learn about a particular topic, as well as educational reasons and/or to have a combined outing with another venue.

First,Vision: “To be a trusted voice in the national conversation, and recognised as one of Australia’s premier cultural destinations exploring Australia’s past, illuminating the present and imagining the future.” Second, Mission: ” The National Museum of Australia’s mission is to bring the world’s cultures to Australia and present Australia’s history and culture to the world. In pursuit of this goal, the Museum has developed its ambitious Master Plan 2017–2030.” Third, Values: “In every part of what we do we will demonstrate excellence, respect, integrity, courage and resilience. This statement is in addition to the observation of the Australian Public Service values set out in the Australian Public Service Act 1999” (,2021).

Currently, the museum is undergoing some major changes. This will take place over the next four years and will focus on the real and virtual. They plan on building connections across all topics and accompanying exhibits that embed a culture of discovery, delight, inquiry, and authority. The focus is on Indigenous histories, as well as their cultures. This expands into European settlements, as well as the interaction with their environments. Established in 1980, this museum is publicly funded, as a statutory authority in the Commonwealth Arts portfolio. The Governor-General appoints a Director to the museum. They have numerous photos with a title underneath, in which to click on to find more information on the topic at hand. Each section appears to be thorough and provides transparency.

The museum has a section titled Indigenous Reference Group.

“The primary role of the Indigenous Reference Group (formerly the Indigenous Advisory Committee) of the National Museum of Australia Council is to provide expert Indigenous advice to the Council regarding the Museum’s activities that represent and serve the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the broader Australian community” (, 2021).

Below is just a sampling of informational categories that this museum contains. There seems to be no shortage of information. I was astounded at all the topics. In the past, I’ve only gotten a brochure or heard about an exhibit via news, television, or academia. I feel that visitors would not take the time to research in-depth exhibits. I could be wrong, especially with the pandemic and restricted movements. This may depend on interests and educational levels of visitors. This could be a topic unto itself. My question: Would you take the time to explore a museums website in-depth, as well as its stance on controversial exhibits?






3 Thoughts to “4: Governance Discussion”

  1. Erin Gingrich

    That is a lot of information! And I am happy to see the variety of topics that they cover on their website. To answer your question: I typically do not research museums heavily before my visits, nor do I frequent museum websites (unless they provide grants). Being an artist I am very object and experience based in my motivations in visiting museums and I don’t really take the time to investigate the institutions that I visit casually (museums that I have worked with are a different story). Being an Alaskan I have tried to take almost every opportunity to see a new museum with an Art or Culture or Natural History collection. That being said, there have been exhibits that I’ve seen that I was not prepared for and I found myself very challenged by them. I’m not sure if I had looked ahead if these challenges would have been made more clear to me or not, and I can’t recall if there was adequate signage in place in these cases. I have taken these experiences as lessons for me to learn and pay deeper attention to what it is I will be looking at and what I will be participating in by seeing these kinds of exhibits. I do feel that museum maps, information guides and websites should inform visitors of challenging exhibits and why they chose to exhibit such sensitive materials. Quyana!

  2. Angela Linn

    It’s fascinating to see how other countries govern their museums! Thanks for digging into this one. Australia has been very progressive, along with New Zealand and Canada, in updating the way they run their museums and their view on meaningful consultation and co-management of their collections. I’m glad you brought this one to light!

  3. Tony Thompson

    Hi, Barbara!

    Great post about governance! This museum sounds very interesting; I’d love to visit some time! I appreciate the detail of their purpose and mission state as well as their commitment to respectfully and accurately representing the Indigenous people of Australia. To answer your question, prior to the whole COVID mess, I rarely explored a museums website before visiting. However, having spent the better part of a year in my apartment, the next time I visit a new museum you better believe I will have explored the website, printed a map, and have a very detailed and extensive plan-of-action. I think before I took the opportunity to visit a new museum for granted and I definitely was present and enjoyed the experience, but now I think I will optimize each experience a bit better to get the absolute most out of the experience. Great question!

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