Media release: Australian Museum Director announces departure in 2014

Sydney, NSW. Wednesday 9 October, 2013.

Today, Australian Museum Director, Mr Frank Howarth PSM announced that he will not seek re-appointment when his current term expires early next year. After almost 10 years at the helm of Australia’s first museum, Mr Howarth will remain in the role until a new director is appointed in 2014. 

Mr Howarth said, “The Museum is entering a new phase of development and it is appropriate that the Museum have a Director who can see that process right through. I have had an immensely fulfilling time at the Australian Museum working with a team of skilled, dedicated and enthusiastic staff. After 10 years I am sad, but excited to start on a new challenge. In the meantime, I am looking forward to some extended holiday travel in mid-2014 before considering the next executive appointment.”

President of the Australian Museum Trust, Ms Catherine Livingstone said: “Frank succeeded in stabilising the Museum shortly after his arrival nine years ago, and he has built the Museum up to be dynamic, outward facing and successful. He has fostered collaboration between the cultural institutions in Sydney, and through his national roles, across Australia, most recently in the area of Museum-based science research. He has built strong working relationships with the Museum’s two supporting Foundations, and has strengthened the Museum’s donor base, as well as growing the Museum’s other non-Government revenue sources. His success in securing the Alexander the Great exhibition from Russia gave Sydney its standout exhibition for 2012–13, and he has more great exhibitions in the pipeline.”

Continuing she said, “The recent announcement of the creation of the Australian Museum Research Institute reflects Frank’s commitment to focussing the Museum’s science to where it will make the most difference. On behalf of the Trustees of the Museum I want to thank Frank for his dedication to the Museum and to the cultural scene in Sydney and Australia.”

Minister for the Arts the Hon. George Souris said, “Under his leadership, Frank brought many positive changes to the operations of the Australian Museum, from leading major building projects to blockbuster exhibitions and establishing scientific research centres. It is a strong record of achievement that will support the Museum into the 21st Century.”

Under Mr Howarth’s stewardship, the Australian Museum presented a number of blockbuster exhibitions, including the highly successful Alexander the Great exhibition. Showcasing the largest collection of treasures ever to come to Australia from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia, the exhibition enjoyed record crowds with an increase of more than 40% on average monthly attendance.

Mr Howarth said, “The Museum, through its exhibitions, displays and vital scientific research, serves both the public and professional communities with the conviction that greater knowledge of culture and natural history is crucial to the promotion of an engaged and civil society. I will particularly miss working with our dedicated research teams whose passion and diverse opinions have contributed to the growth of the Museum. I will be watching with fondness and support as the Museum continues to grow.”

An international search for a new Director will commence shortly.

Mr. Howarth’s selected achievements:

  • Leading the museum component of the $38 million Atlas of Living Australia national project
  • A series of major temporary exhibitions at the Museum, most recently presentation of the Alexander the Great exhibition from the State Hermitage of St Petersburg, Russia
  • Establishment in 2012 of the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics at the Museum
  • Creation this year of the Australian Museum Research Institute
  • Consolidation of the Museum’s consulting services arm into a profitable business unit
  • Seven very successful seasons of the Museum’s after hours program, Jurassic Lounge
  • Wide scale introduction of video conference distance learning for the Museum for NSW schools
  • Record visitor attendance in 2012–13 since the Museum began charging entry in the 1980s
  • Helping to grow the two major Foundations which support the Museum

The Australian Museum provides knowledge, expertise and programs which support caring for nature and culture and building a legacy for future generations.

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Claire Vince , Publicist
Phone: Monday – Friday 0468 726 910
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