National Museum of Australia - History and Facts | History Hit

National Museum of Australia

Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia

The National Museum of Australia is a museum of the history, culture and heritage of Australia.

Peta Stamper

04 May 2021
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About National Museum of Australia

The National Museum of Australia is a museum of the history, culture and heritage of Australia located in the national capital, Canberra. Using a mix of multimedia displays, information, objects and artefacts, the National Museum of Australia explores a variety of events, themes and issues.

One of the main permanent exhibits at the National Museum of Australia relates to the story and heritage of the nation’s indigenous people, considering 50,000 years of history. The museum also explores at Australia’s connections with the world as well as settlement in the country from 1788, Federation and social and political development right up to modern day.

National Museum of Australia history

The National Museum of Australia was formally established by an act of the same name in 1980, but it was not until March 2001 that a permanent home for the collection was opened. The purpose-built museum was designed by architect Howard Raggat based on the theme of knotted ropes that symbolically bring together the multiple stories of Australia.

The museum’s building represents the central knot while trailing ropes extend from it. The most impressive of the ropes was a large loop that functions as a walkway ending in a large curl. This feature is known as the ‘Uluru Axis’ as it aligns with the natural landmark in central Australia, tying this indigenous spiritual heart with the modern Canberra city plan.

The building’s exterior is covered in aluminium plates. some of which contain controversial plates written in brail: ‘forgive us our genocide’ and ‘sorry’. These controversial messages were later obscured by silver discs, distorting the brail.

National Museum of Australia today

Today, the National Museum of Australia holds over 210,000 objects and are focused into 3 themes: the culture and history of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, Australian culture and history since the European settlement in 1788, and interactions between humans and the environment in Australia.

Among the free of charge exhibitions are, ‘Talking Blak to History’ that highlights the voices of Australia’s first peoples, as well as ‘Piinpi” Contemporary Indigenous Fashion’. Within the impressive Gandel Atrium, explore objects of all shapes and sizes, including earthenware vases to the Melbourne Olympic Games poster designed by Richard Beck in 1954.

Another highlight is the Forecourt Garden, a welcoming spot to rest after exploring the collections and admire the building’s extraordinary and unique architecture. You are literally welcomed to the garden by sandstone boulders and totems belonging to the First Nations people, used in rituals to welcome visitors. The garden often hosts performances and events.

Getting to National Museum of Australia

Looking out over the Molonglo River and Lake Burley Griffin, the National Museum of Australia is found by car just off the A23, exiting onto Parkes Way then Lawson Crescent. The nearest bus stop are Old Canberra House Lennox Crossing, on bus route 53 towards City Hall.

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