Museums Australia

Museums Australia
Museums Australia
Type peak council; central profession body; incorporated association
Tax ID No. ABN 83 048 139 955
Registration No. A02074 (Associations Incorporation Act 1991 (Australian Capital Territory))
Founded 6 June 1992 (1992-06-06) (incorporation)
Location Canberra, Australia
Origins merger of Council of Australian Museums Associations, Museums Association of Australia, Art Museums Association of Australia, and Museum Education Association of Australia
Area served Australia
MuseumsAustralia magazine  
Former name(s) Museum National (1992 – 2003)
Discipline museum administration
Language English
Publication details
Publisher Museums Australia (Australia)
Publication history 2003 –
ISSN 1038-1694
OCLC number 54366605

Museums Australia is the central professional organisation and peak council for museums and public art galleries in Australia. It advocates for the sector, provides a range of professional services to its members at a national, State and interest group level, including professional development and training opportunities, newsletters, advocacy and representation.[1] It was established in 1994 by national amalgamation of a number of museums associations.[2]



In 1993, the executive officer of the Council of Australian Museum Associations, Greg Marginson, authored "Amalgamation : unity and diversity : the path towards a united museums' association for Australia" which estimated that there were around 1,900 museums in Australia but that their professional wants and needs were represented by at least 22 different organisations. He reported that Commonwealth and State government funding bodies were confused and frustrated by the lack of a central point of contact with the museum sector and profession.[3][4]

In 1937, the Art Galleries' and Museums' Association of Australia and New Zealand held its inaugural meeting in Auckland.[5][6][7] This single organisation represented not-for-profit art galleries and museums in Australia and New Zealand.[3] In 1948, the art galleries dissociated and the resultant Museums Association of Australia covered only science and history museums.[3]

Failed attempts to create a single national body were made in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1981, the Council of Australian Museum Associations (CAMA) was formed to foster amalgamation but CAMA was under-resourced for that task until the 1990s. At that time there were three major museums organisations in Australia: the Art Museums Association, the Museums Association and CAMA.[3]

The pooling of meagre resources was one impetus towards amalgamation but there was also a pressing need to set uniform standards for museums in relation to artists' moral rights, museum ethics, cultural heritage export restrictions and conservation.[3]

In 1993 there were 12 programs training museum professionals and CAMA saw a need for a single national body to ensure uniform museum studies curriculums and accreditation.[3]

On 1 January 1994, Museums Australia was formed by the amalgamation of the Council of Australian Museums Associations, Museums Association of Australia, Art Museums Association of Australia, and Museum Education Association of Australia.[8]


Museums Australia publishes a magazine: from 1992 to 2003, titled Museum National, now titled MuseumsAustralia magazine (sometimes referred to as Museums Australia Magazine) and self-described as:"Australian museums and galleries - issues-news-views".

The proceedings of the annual/biennial conference are also published by Museums Australia.

  • Identity, icons and artefacts, proceedings of the inaugural Museums Australia Conference, Fremantle, November 1994
  • Communicating cultures, conference proceedings, Museums Australia Second Annual Conference, Brisbane, 21-25 November 1995
  • Tragedy and the museum: Port Arthur, collection of papers presented to Museums Australia 3rd Conference, Sydney, 1996
  • Unlocking Museums, the proceedings 4th National Conference of Museums Australia Inc, Darwin, Northern Territory, 1997
  • Fringe benefits : program handbook : community, culture communication, Albury Convention & Performing Arts Centre, May 5 to 9, 1999, 5th Annual Conference of Museums Australia
  • Museums Australia National Conference electronic archive of conference proceedings at National Library of Australia

They various state branches and national networks (formerly called special interest groups) also produce newsletters, conference proceedings and other publications.

Among its many other publications are:

  • Code of ethics for art, history & science museums (1994; 1997 3rd ed.)
  • Previous possessions, new obligations : a plain English summary of policies for museums in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples (1996)
  • The exhibition handbook : a practical guide for organising exhibitions in Australian museums, galleries, libraries and community centres (1997)
  • The Resources directory for the museum community (1998)
  • Caring for our culture : national guidelines for museums, galleries and keeping places (1998)
  • Taking the time : museums and galleries, cultural protocols and communities : a resource guide (1998)
  • Continuous cultures, ongoing responsibilities : principles and guidelines for Australian museums working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural heritage (2005)
  • Exhibitions : a practical guide for small museums and galleries (2007)
  • Exhibition design for galleries and museums : an insider's view (2010)


  1. ^ "Museums and Art Museums" in Encyclopedia of Australia via Australia/New Zealand Reference Centre, EBSCOhost (database online) (Accession Number CQDmuseuums104) accessed 26 August 2011.
  2. ^ Des Griffin and Leon Paroissien (2011) 'Museums in Australia: from a new era to a new century" in Des Griffin and Leon Paroissien (eds), Understanding Museums: Australian museums and museology, National Museum of Australia accessed 26 August 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Michael Bogle, "Museums need a single voice", The Sydney Morning Herald, 20 July 1993, p 19 via factiva accessed 26 August 2011.
  4. ^ Greg Marginson, "Unity and diversity : the path towards a united museums' association of Australia" (1993) Museum National Vol. 2 No. 1 pp 7-30
  5. ^ "ART GALLERIES AND MUSEUMS.". The Mercury (Hobart, Tas. : 1860 - 1954) (Hobart, Tas.: National Library of Australia): p. 6. 24 February 1937. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Officers Of New Cultural Association.". The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1931 - 1954) (Adelaide, SA: National Library of Australia): p. 22. 24 February 1937. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "AUSTRALASIAN MUSEUMS.". The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954) (Perth, WA: National Library of Australia): p. 20. 24 February 1937. Retrieved 26 August 2011. 
  8. ^ Museums Australia, Libraries Australia Authorities, National Library of Australia accessed 26 August 2011.

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