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Understanding Museums - Australian Museums and Museology: Edited by Des Griffin and Leon Paroissien

About the authors

Kimberley Webber is the Principal Curator, Collections and Access at Sydney's Powerhouse Museum. More about Kimberley Webber

Liz Gillroy is Regional Museum Curator at the Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and Researcher and Cataloguer for the Council and for Timbertown collections. More about Liz Gilroy

Joanne Hyland has worked for the Western Australian Museum since 2006 following her experience volunteering on the museum's major collection relocation project during 2004. More about Joanne Hyland

Amanda James Amanda James is currently Senior Community History Officer at History SA. More about Amanda James

Laura Miles is the Executive Director of Museums Australia (Victorian branch), working to support over 700 museums in the state. More about Laura Miles

Deborah Tranter is the Director of the Cobb+Co Museum in Toowoomba and Director Queensland Museum Regional Services. More about Deborah Tranter

Kate Walsh is a museums consultant and professional historian. More about Kate Walsh

Drawing people together: the local and regional museum movement in Australia
by Kimberley Webber, Liz Gillroy, Joanne Hyland, Amanda James,
Laura Miles, Deborah Tranter and Kate Walsh

Recent decades have seen a burgeoning of local museums across Australia, reflecting growing community interest. [1] Their funding sources are largely state and local governments and this contributes to distinct differences: Western Australia and Queensland, for example, have well-established regional museum networks overseen by the state museum; in New South Wales support comes from the Museums and Galleries New South Wales, which aims to nurture ‘sustainable museums and galleries within their community’. [2] There is also similarity: the majority of local museums are run by volunteers and rely largely on their energy and commitment to survive and grow. Local and state government support is far from reliable. Regional Australia remains under-represented in the major state museums, and these under-resourced and largely volunteer-run institutions are the principal preservers of the tangible heritage of our past, and the accompanying stories.

In considering the significance of the regional museum movement in Australia, it is important to remember that it is comparatively recent. Unlike the United States and the UK, interest in collecting and interpreting material culture in Australia came late. The Royal Australian Historical Society was not founded until 1901, the National Trust not until 1946. Only in the 1980s, with the prospect of the bicentenary of European settlement, did state museums move from a focus primarily on natural history and technology to embrace the new social history. [3]

When Markham and Richards reported on the state of Australia’s museums and galleries for the Carnegie Corporation in 1933, they found only three historical ‘exhibits’: the War Memorial Museum and Parliament House in Canberra and Vaucluse House in Sydney. [4] Forty years later, the Pigott Report argued that since the 1960s a quickening of interest in Australian history had led through a ‘grass roots movement’ to the founding of hundreds of small museums across Australia. The Report concluded that:

The nature of Australian history and its relatively long democratic tradition suggests that folk museums might eventually occupy a role as important as that occupied by natural history in our museums in the nineteenth century. [5]

But if the authors found much potential in regional museums, they also found common problems: inadequate buildings, the absence of professional staff or advice, poor conservation and documentation and scarce storage. They also considered there was a ‘sameness’ about the displays.

Over the last 30 years efforts have been made to address these problems. However, important recommendations of the Pigott Report remain unrealised, including the proposal for regional networks supported by professional advisers; the acceptance of material culture as a research tool; and a ‘register of rarities’.

Some of the earliest regional museums are found in Western Australia: Joanne Hyland surveys their development and the impact of government initiatives, particularly the availability of funds through Lotterywest. In Queensland, Deborah Tranter explains the significance of the Queensland Museum’s regional branches and the effect of a new interest in the state’s cultural heritage on community museums. Kate Walsh and Amanda James identify issues common to all states, but also outline the role of the History Trust [6] in providing support and advice. In Victoria, Laura Miles demonstrates the importance of the Museums Association (Victoria) and government departments in supporting the state’s regional museums, where today the majority remain volunteer run. Finally, in New South Wales, Liz Gillroy documents the rich variety of community museums in just one region, Port Macquarie, highlighting their challenges and achievements.

Western Australia

At the time of the Pigott Report’s release in 1975, the needs of select regional museums (mostly historical societies) in Western Australia were already being addressed through the Western Australian Museum’s (WAM) extension service founded in the late 1960s. Later outreach services – the Local Museums Program (1970 to 1994) and the Museum Assistance Program from 1994 – provided advice and support, initially to 18 ‘recognised’ municipal museums, mostly in the south-west quarter of the state, and subsequently around 330 local museums by 2007.

In the mid-1980s the professionalism of the museum sector in WA was boosted by key developments: the Travelling Curator program, the introduction of quality education programs, and a specific purpose grants program funded by the then Lotteries Commission (now Lotterywest).

The establishment of regular funding for museums from the Lottery has had a significant impact on museums, as well as on the professional consultants who provide services. Contractors have been engaged to work on specific tasks including curatorial activities, development of conservation and interpretation plans, and conducting significance assessments. Lotterywest funding also enables community museums to purchase IT hardware and software, including the locally developed Mosaic collection management system. This system, now used throughout the country, also owes much of its success to the work of those in the Mid West Chapter of Museums Australia.

Since 1988 museums in each region of the state have had access to advisory visits by teams of Western Australian Museum staff, with regular regional training workshops. An annual introductory training course began in Perth and operated, in one form or another, for over 20 years, benefiting hundreds of people working in community museums. Until 2006 organisations were invited to nominate participants and to apply for Lotteries Commission grants to fund their attendance. This program has now been replaced by ‘smart’ delivery via Web and electronic systems.

With a state representing a third of the Australian continent, WA’s collections contend with a range of environmental conditions encompassing tropical, arid and temperate zones. This has required great flexibility in planning for housing and conserving collections. Indigenous cultural heritage, often located in savage environmental conditions, has a unique range of requirements.

The period 2007 to 2010 saw reduced funding for services leading to reliance on technology, especially telephone and Internet, to meet client demand. Regional advisory services, field visits and workshops were cut back, however 2011 has seen the reinstatement of funding to support field advisory visits to the regions. Continuing collaboration with Museums Australia (WA) has seen improved communications with clients via surveys that allow tailored education and training programs to be developed.

Change has been incremental and cumulative. The impetus has come from increased funding sources and trained staff. Volunteers have gained a sense of achievement through training and working with their peers. However, museums that are wholly dependent on volunteer staff remain handicapped. While small, independent collecting bodies are entirely dependent on volunteers, problems that have plagued the sector from its earliest beginnings will continue: lack of recurrent funding; difficulty in attracting and keeping workers; lack of access to training and education; isolation; poor storage and display conditions; and limited documentation and scarcity of conservation services. Contemporary pressures create further demands: the need to accommodate digital technologies; the urgency of succession planning for an aging workforce; and increasing competition for scarce services.

The community museum movement in Queensland

Although there were some early museums in regional cities and towns in Queensland,[7] a community museums movement only emerged with the economic and social changes of the 1970s. As clearing sale signs appeared on more and more farms, there was growing concern that the region’s heritage was being irretrievably lost. Community museums were primarily established to save the contents of farm sheds and other objects left behind by retiring property owners. This was also the time of rescuing buildings and relocating them to a museum ‘village’ complex. The buildings themselves were treated as artefacts, with the added advantage of their being able to house collections.

The first attempt in Queensland to provide state support to community museums was in 1982, when the Board of the Queensland Museum convinced the government to introduce the Grant Towards Local Museum Activities Scheme. Although grants were limited, the scheme was popular in regional communities and enabled the Queensland Museum to provide professional guidance in museum practices.

The Board of the Queensland Museum also established branches or campuses in regional Queensland from the mid 1980s,[8] bringing the state museum for the first time into direct contact with regional communities, museums and local authorities.

Community museums were increasing at the rate of nearly one a month in the early 1990s,[9]and by 1995 there were 175 small museum grants being distributed by the Queensland Museum. [10] The 1990 Review of the Arts in Queensland recognised that the contribution of the community museums to the ‘cultural milieu in Queensland had been previously overlooked’, but acknowledged that through lack of resources ‘a significant part of Queensland’s culture and history is underutilised, unknown and inaccessible to the majority of Queenslanders’. [11] Despite these concerns, the only outcome was an official decision to review the Queensland Museum and its relationship to the community museum sector. The subsequent report described these museums as ‘one of the most dynamic and little recognised resources in the cultural area’ of the state. However the then government took no action as a result. [12]

Two years later, Arts Queensland finally intervened, commissioning an assessment of the community museum sector in Queensland, which recommended the formation of the Museum Resource Centre Network (MRCN). [13] This unique partnership, forged between the Queensland Museum, Arts Queensland and local authorities, employs museum development officers (MDOs) to live and work in the regions and provide professional services to hundreds of heritage collecting organisations in regional Queensland.

Escalating interest in cultural heritage activities, generated through the Queensland Heritage Trails Network and the availability of other Centenary of Federation funding sources in 2001, increased demands on the MDO services. In response, a new strategic direction was introduced in 2005, with the commencement of a project to map thematically almost 300 heritage collections across the state, as had been suggested by the Pigott Report 30 years earlier.

As expected, the majority of the more traditional organisations still project a way of life dependent on traditional rural industries. There is much less collection emphasis on living and working in regional towns than on life on rural properties. A great deal of duplication of artefacts exists across collections.

Of greater concern is the fact that little collecting of recent material is taking place. Anyone born after the Second World War will rarely find his or her stories reflected in regional collections. Further, collections reflecting the state’s rich cultural diversity are also few and far between although community groups, particularly in the far north of the state, are starting to realise the value of their collections to society as a whole.

There is also some increased collection-based activity by Indigenous groups such as the Cherbourg and Kowanyama Aboriginal communities and the Joskeleigh South Sea Islander community near Rockhampton. These and other groups look towards the Yugambeh Museum, Language and Heritage Centre at Beenleigh as an excellent model for preserving and interpreting traditional and contemporary artefacts and photographs supported by oral histories.

Since 2007 museum development officers have been working on significance assessments across the state. Important material has been documented as a result, including the Chinese Temple Collection in Cairns.

Local government amalgamation in March 2008 has benefited many collecting organisations, with new regional councils seeking more coordinated approaches. The Toowoomba Regional Council has supported the development of a Cultural Heritage Network of 27 separate organisations, thereby having a single avenue for communication. Another development post-amalgamation is the move by some larger councils to employ heritage or museum officers to work across a number of their volunteer-run organisations.

In Queensland there is still much to achieve before heritage collections adequately reflect the state’s vast natural and cultural diversity. However the partnership forged between the Queensland Museum, Arts Queensland and local councils provides a pathway to ensuring that all Queenslanders will have their stories reflected in collections and preserved for future generations.

Local and regional museums in South Australia

Numbers of museums in South Australia increased rapidly from about 20 in 1960 to 170 by 1990, and 200 in 2008, spurred on in the 1960s and 1970s by the push for heritage preservation, and in the 1980s by the state’s sesquicentenary (1986) and Australia’s bicentenary (1988). Often buildings saved from demolition became local museums, with records and objects relating to pioneering families and rural life.

Since the 1970s private collectors have also operated museums in regional South Australia, with displays reflecting their passions – shells, dolls, toys, coins, costume, cars and machinery. These museums have come and gone, with collections often selling on the open market.

Most small community-based museums accumulated mixed collections of furniture, documents and photographs, domestic artefacts, textiles and machinery. Some focused on aspects of the state’s history, or were associated with a person of historical interest, such as explorer Charles Sturt (Charles Sturt House Museum) or colonial Premier Sir Henry Ayers (Ayers House). Others, such as the museum of the Embroiderers’ Guild of South Australia, acquired specialist collections. Collectively, they acquired, displayed and stored thousands of historical items, relying on community support and their own fundraising efforts.

In 1976, the state government created a Museums Officer position at the South Australian Museum to provide advice and assistance and to mould these diverse and scattered museums into a strategic and supportive network. This network was accumulating and displaying the evidence of South Australia’s European settlement and social history at a time when state-funded collecting institutions focused largely on art, natural sciences and anthropology.

The 1981 Edwards Report – commissioned by government to review museum developments on Adelaide’s North Terrace cultural precinct – recommended the establishment of the History Trust of South Australia to operate social history museums and fill the gap in the state’s collecting areas. [14] The History Trust was duly established as a statutory authority, opened the South Australian Maritime Museum and the Migration and Settlement Museum, both in 1986, and took over management of the Constitutional Museum and Birdwood Mill Motor Museum. [15]

The History Trust’s other core responsibility was to ‘accredit or otherwise to evaluate museums’. [16] The Museums Officer position was transferred to the History Trust and in 1982 the Museums Accreditation and Grants Program (MAGP) [17] was launched. Since 1982, reviews of the method of servicing museums, program standards and individual museum operations have mirrored the growing development of museological practice for social history collections and displays. In 2008, standards were aligned with the new National Standards for Australian Museums and Galleries. A key feature of the MAGP has been its ongoing annual grant allocation which has distributed over two million dollars to assist small museums to improve their facilities, develop policies and procedures, install interpretive displays and preserve their collections. The MAGP has always been voluntary, with participating museums numbering as high as 97 at the end of the 1990s. In 2008 this had fallen to 62, representing about a third of the state’s local and regional museum sector.

The History Trust’s MAGP has encouraged small museums to develop major displays linking their collections to South Australia’s key regional stories, and to work with professional historians and designers. Both the History Trust and the South Australian Tourism Commission emphasise the importance of local stories in attracting visitors and tourists.

Since the 1970s certain trends have typified the small museum sector. First, the vast majority of community museums were established, and are still managed, by volunteers. Only in the last decade have younger volunteers become involved. Numbers have remained steady at about 20,000 since the 1980s, although within particular museums they can vary greatly. The History Trust, Museums Australia and Artlab Australia (the state conservation laboratory) have offered field visits and training programs since the 1980s.

Second, few community museums have collection development policies, and as a result there is significant duplication of object types, especially common domestic and agricultural artefacts.

Third, many collections in small museums are poorly documented. Although more museums are entering collections onto computer databases, information is often scant and confined to descriptions of items rather than a detailed record of provenance.

Finally, local government involvement, especially in regional areas, has been uneven. Council support has been largely confined to helping with maintenance and administration costs, or rent reduction and access to local community benefit funds. Metropolitan councils, however, have a better track record in supporting and funding local museums and interpretive centres. Most metropolitan councils employ local history officers, usually based in the local library.

Preserving and displaying the nineteenth and early twentieth century (pre-Second World War) British pioneer heritage has been the main focus of regional museums. Most gloss over local Indigenous history and European and Indigenous encounters. One outstanding exception is Melrose Courthouse Heritage Centre in the state’s mid-north, where the story of the frontier encounter between the Nukunu people and early European settlers is told. Another is the Lady Nelson Interpretive Centre in Mount Gambier. The story of German settlement features strongly in regional South Australia, with important collections held in several museums. And a number of culturally specific museums and collections represent the post-Second World War experiences of Lithuanian, Latvian, Polish and Ukrainian communities.

There are individual examples of well-organised and viable local and regional museums, actively presenting changing displays related to South Australia’s key regional stories and engaged with their local communities, but most small museums continue to operate in isolation, without strategic links to their region’s tourist and economic activities. They struggle with scant resources to store adequately, display and care for their collections despite their immense historical significance to South Australia.

Museums in Victoria

The landscape of museums in Victoria has evolved significantly over the last 30 years. In 1981 the then Museums Association appointed Susan Tonkin as the first salaried executive officer to its Victorian branch. In the same year the state government’s Ministry for the Arts appointed Roger Trudgeon, whose seminal survey of Victorian museums in 1984 [18] led to the creation of two state government structures: the Museums Unit, which developed grants programs and the Museums Resource Service, and the Museums Advisory Board, which advised the Minister for the Arts on community museums and policy for the Museums Unit. [19]

Between 1984 and its disbanding in 1995 by the Kennett government, the Museums Unit developed a cataloguing program, professional development opportunities, and a small grants program for community museums. These services and associated activities were transferred to Museums Australia (Victoria).

There are over 740 museums in Victoria [20] and 500 members of MA (Vic). Of these, 60 are in the Museums Accreditation Program (MAP) [21] which peer-reviews museums to achieve and develop standards. Museums with MAP status receive preferential promotion from Tourism Victoria and are branded with the Victorian tourism ‘tick’ logo, a recognised mark of quality.

Victorian museums are supported by a number of organisations and two state government departments, Arts Victoria and Heritage Victoria. Since 2001, MA (Vic) has devolved over one million dollars in small infrastructure and exhibition development grants from Arts Victoria. The variety of grants available in the sector is extensive, however navigating funding rounds and responding to opportunities remains a challenge, particularly for museums with limited resources. Access to sustainable support, both financial and otherwise, is arguably the biggest challenge for the state’s museums.

In a 2002 report, a quarter (34 out of 138) of museums surveyed stated that government grants were their main income, and paid staff ran 22 of the 34. [22] This reliance on volunteers is an asset, as they represent a significant long-term resource willing to care for Victoria’s cultural heritage. Increasingly, the larger institutions have supported volunteers and paid staff via partnerships, training and outreach programs. Organisations taking an active lead in this effort include MA (Vic), the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, the National Trust (Vic), the Public Galleries Association of Victoria, the State Library of Victoria, the National Gallery of Victoria and Museum Victoria.

One model that has addressed this key issue is the ‘regional hub’. Arts Victoria has long considered this approach, particularly in the ‘Revitalising Victoria’s Community Museums’ consultation process in 2004–05,[23] and successfully piloted the Goldfields project with an established Community Museums Project Officer to bring together museum organisations and groups to collaborate on projects and best-practice networks.

Like other states and territories, Victoria’s ‘long tail’ of community museums today offers a rich palette of social history collections and stories. However, the old terminology of ‘local’ museums is too general a definition. Two examples of ‘local’ or community museums established since 1976 are the Shepparton Keeping Place, now known as the Bangerang Cultural Centre, which was conceived in 1974 and opened in 1982, and the Physics Museum at the University of Melbourne, established in the 1980s. As with so many community museums, both were brought to life largely because of the sustained efforts of a handful of committed and resourceful museum people.

In 1993 organisations fitting the MA definition of a museum numbered 621. [24] Of those surveyed, the vast majority (158) was classified as historical societies, followed by historic collections (71), private collections (52), historic properties (35), heritage/theme parks (32), art museums (32), research collections (23), corporate collections (11) and archives (10). [25]

Most tellingly, half of the community museums are solely volunteer operated. This statistic has remained constant, indicating a relatively controlled expansion of the number of museums and museum people in Victoria, with virtually no increase in state funding. In Victoria today there are an estimated 2000 paid and 4000 volunteer museum staff caring for 1.5 million cultural heritage objects across the state. [26]

Some positive trends are evident from the strong commitment to museums in Victoria. The emphasis is shifting from pure collections management to a more integrated approach to both collections and interpretation when planning exhibitions. There are more collaborative partnerships and significance assessments carried out. Some community museums have found resources to upgrade their physical environment, attracting loans for temporary exhibitions. In the last decade, larger museums have applied technologies to offer interactive spaces both within the physical museum and online. It is now commonplace to have virtual visitors, with some larger organisations actively encouraging visitors to compile their own stories using social media tools and technologies such as 3G mobile phones, Flickr, Twitter, Blogger and mash-ups.

Port Macquarie: a New South Wales case study

As the third oldest British settlement on the Australian mainland, Port Macquarie has a history of convict settlement, economic decline with the end of transportation and free convict labour, followed by eventual prosperity through the timber industry. In recent years, tourism and the ‘seachange’ phenomenon have re-established Port Macquarie as the region’s capital and brought a younger, more affluent and better-educated demographic.

For over 50 years local people have celebrated and commemorated this history in a particularly rich range of historical societies, museums and heritage groups. A local schoolteacher formed the first – the Hastings River Historical Society – in 1956. Today there are 12 museums, historical societies and history and heritage groups in the local government area.

Community volunteers manage all except Timbertown and Roto House. This leads to significant management changes at election time each year. However, a full-time local government curator provides continuity and assists in the development of a regional plan.

The Port Macquarie Historical Museum opened in 1957 and, since 1960, has been housed in an 1840s building in a prime CBD location, purchased by the Society in 1968. Its mission is to collect, conserve, research and interpret the history and heritage of Port Macquarie and the Hastings. Current membership is 100, of whom 70 are ‘active’.

This Museum is a good example of the fate that can befall the volunteer museum sector. At first, the committee was far sighted, motivated by a passion to record and collect local history. In the 1960s, for example, members flew to Scotland to purchase the diaries of one-time local resident Annabella Boswell. Twenty years later, they redeveloped the Museum, organising exhibits into a ‘street of shops’, and winning the Museum of the Year Award in 1981 and again in 1982. However the same displays can still be seen today.

The National Parks and Wildlife Division of the Department of Climate Change now manage Roto House (built in 1890) with volunteers taking daily tours. The collection is specific to the house and to the Flynn family who lived there until 1976. Volunteers also manage Douglas Vale Homestead and Vineyard, dating to 1869. The house remained in the same family until it was left derelict in the early 1990s. The community fought hard to save the grounds and the title was recently handed over to the Douglas Vale Conservation Group. The Homestead has had the advantage of a consistent group of volunteers, led by a professional conservator. Nonetheless there are tensions between commercial interests – such as the sale of wine from a cellar door on the property – and preservation concerns.

The Maritime Museum in Port Macquarie is spread across three sites: the Pilot Cottages, the Pilot Boat Shed – sales point for MV Wentworth tours and a small exhibition venue – and the Hibbard slipway which is used by volunteers and others to restore timber craft. The responsibility for so many sites creates great financial stress.

The 1869 Court House is owned by the Department of Lands and operated by the Friends of the Courthouse. It is popular with school groups who role-play using transcripts of trials, including those of convicts.

Beyond the township is the Wauchope Museum, founded in 1956 and housed in a relocated small heritage church. The Society owns the building but it is on Council land. The collection is not well documented and is managed by 10 volunteers. Another small museum focused on collecting local photographs and writing local histories is located in the recently restored Laurieton School of Arts. The Museum Advisor worked with the Society to produce a strategic plan recommending against further acquisitions. However collecting continues, and the range of domestic objects in the collection lacks documentation.

Other groups in the area include the Port Macquarie and District Family History Society with over 200 members and a younger demographic than museum volunteers; Friends of St Thomas’ Church (built 1824); the Kendall Heritage Society; the Comboyne Heritage Group; and the Fire Museum Group who are currently looking for premises, despite the fact there is a fire station display at Timbertown.

Timbertown is a recreated timber village representing the period 1890–1910. Founded in 1986, its chequered history reveals the many problems encountered when local government attempts to maintain such a facility. In and out of Council management but always holding great significance for the local community, it is once again being managed by Council and has a commercial focus. Much of the collection is domestic in focus and collection management and security are problematic.

The number, range and quality of the museums and heritage organisations in the Port Macquarie area are undoubtedly typical of museum conditions in many parts of Australia. Collections tend to focus on saving historic material from dispersal or destruction rather than on interpretation and display. Good collection management practices are not common. Although the many volunteers give generously of their time, few have a special interest in collections and little interest in researching, documenting or caring for them. However, thematic studies have begun to address these problems. Timber Stories in 2003–04 and Her Story in 2005–06 highlighted the significance of some of the objects in these museums, and revealed gaps in collecting areas.


The authors would like to acknowledge the assistance of Clare-Frances Craig in the preparation of the section on Western Australia.


1 As the Pigott Report argued: ‘Undoubtedly the country museums fulfil an important need in the local community. They draw people together; they give scope to the old and to the imaginative; they are a bay window of local pride’. Museums in Australia: Report of the Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections, Australian Government Publishing Service, Canberra, 1975, p. 24.

2 ‘Overview’, Museums and Galleries New South Wales,

3 See Kimberley Webber, ‘Constructing Australia’s Past: The Development of Historical Collections 1888–1938’, in Patricia Summerfield (ed.), Proceedings of the Council of Australian Museums Associations Conference, Perth, WA, 1986, pp. 155–173.

4 SF Markham and HC Richards, A Report on the Museums and Art Galleries of Australia to the Carnegie Corporation, Museums Association, London, 1933.

5 Museums in Australia: Report of the Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections, p .21.

6 The name has now been changed to History SA.

7 In Queensland in the 1930s there were museums that were open to the public only in Rockhampton and Bundaberg and these were housed in their respective Schools of Art (Markham and Richards, 1933, p. 3).

8 Queensland Museum Act 1970.

9 A Bartholomai, ‘Improving access to museum services in Queensland’, Memoirs of the Queensland Museum, 30 (3), pp. 355–372 at p. 370.

10 J Lennon, Hidden Heritage: A Development Plan for Museums in Queensland, 1995–2001, Arts Queensland, Brisbane, 1995, p. i.

11 Arts Committee, Queensland: A State for the Arts, Department of the Premier, Economic and Trade Development, 1991.

12 Queensland Museum Policy Review Panel, A Policy Review of the Queensland Museum, Brisbane, 1992, pp. 29–30.

13 J Lennon, Hidden Heritage. Starting slowly in 1996, the MRCN now has six centres and in 2009 can finally provide direct assistance to heritage collections across all of Queensland.

14 Robert Edwards, Museum Policy and Development in South Australia: Final Report, Adelaide, 1981.

15 The Birdwood Mill Motor Museum is now named the National Motor Museum and the Migration and Settlement Museum is now named the Migration Museum.

16 History Trust of South Australia Act 1981.

17 Now known as the Community Museums Program (CMP).

18 R Trudgeon, Museums In Victoria: A Report on the Victorian Museum Survey 1982/3, Victorian Ministry for the Arts, Melbourne, 1984.

19 Personal communication, R Trudgeon and H Newton, 2009.

20 Museums Australia (Victoria) (2007) Long-list of Victorian museums, compiled 2 July 2007.

22 C Brophy, Marketing Victorian Museums: A Report on Marketing and Audience Development in Small to Medium-sized Museums in Victoria, Museums Australia (Victoria) and Arts Victoria Co-operative Audience Development Support Initiative, Melbourne, 2002.

23 Heritage Victoria, Victorian Heritage Strategy 2000–2005, Department of Planning and Community Development, Victoria, 2000.

24 Of these, only 424 were surveyed due to a lack of response from 197 ‘because we cannot be certain of their level of operation, or if they still exist’. K Freeman, The 1992 Victorian Museum Survey Report, Museums Association of Australia Inc. (Victoria Branch), Melbourne, 1993, p. 4.

25 Freeman, The 1992 Victorian Museum Survey Report, p. 4.

26 Personal communication with Martin Hallett, 2008.

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Cite as: Kimberley Webber et al., 2011, 'Drawing people together: the local and regional museum movement', in Understanding Museums: Australian museums and museology, Des Griffin and Leon Paroissien (eds), National Museum of Australia, published online at ISBN 978-1-876944-92-6