1820s

  • The Colonial or Sydney Museum is established by Lord Bathurst, Secretary of State for the Colonies with a budget of £200 a year to cover all running costs.

  • The Colonial Museum's first custodian, William Holmes, is appointed. A carpenter and keen naturalist, he is the Museum's first Zoologist and our first collector. Unfortunately his Museum career is cut short when he is shot by accidental discharge of gun while collecting birds and other curiosities’ at Moreton Bay (Brisbane) in August 1831.


1830s

  • The Museum is located at Bent Street (Macquarie Place), in the shed and outhouse of a building that previously housed the first Post Office in Australia.

  • After Holmes’ death, the Museum is moved to rooms in the Legislative Council building in Macquarie Street where it comes under the control of Edward Deas Thomson, clerk to the Council. Thomson appoints his convict messenger, William Galvin to look after the collection.

  • Dr George Bennett is appointed Secretary and Curator

  • Convict John Roach is appointed the Museum’s first taxidermist, ‘Collector and bird stuffer’. Roach later set up his own taxidermy and curio shop in Hunter Street, Sydney.

  • The Museum changes its name to The Australian Museum, governed by a Committee of Superintendence headed by prominent colonist Alexander Macleay

  • The Museum’s first catalogue is published by George Bennett. It includes 36 Australian mammal species, birds, fish, shells, fossils, nine aboriginal artefacts and 16 from Melanesia.


1840s

  • Geologist Rev William Branwhite Clarke (previously Headmaster of the King’s School, Parramatta) is appointed Secretary and Curator. Resigns 1843.

  • The Museum moves to rooms in the newly constructed Court House at Woolloomooloo (now Oxford St, Darlinghurst)

  • Plans are drawn up for a new Museum building. Money (£3000) is allocated in 1845 by the Legislative Council and a site identified on William St, on land previously occupied by a convict garden.

  • W. S. Wall is appointed Curator. He makes a disastrous collecting trip to the Murrumbidgee river, running out of money and food after 2 weeks. Returning to Camden for provisions he sets out again, only to become stranded again 5 weeks later. After a miserable 5 months, Wall returns to the Museum with 138 birds and sixteen mammals.

  • Building work starts on the William Street site to the plans of Mortimer Lewis, Colonial Architect.

  • W. S. Wall prepares and mounts the skeleton of a whale outside the Museum. A popular attraction, the skeleton is the subject of the Museum’s first Memoir, written in 1851. Such is the whale’s fame that it even had its own original music, ‘The Catadon Polka’. Composed by George Strong in 1853 and dedicated to W. S. Wall the music is first performed at the Royal Victoria Theatre in 1854.

  • Wall is also in charge of a small menagerie operated by the Museum in Hyde Park, Sydney’s first zoo.


1850s

  • The Museum Act is passed. This set up the current structure of trustees and allocated the Museum an endowment of £1000 per annum to be spent at the trustees’ discretion.

  • George French Angas is appointed Secretary, working with W. S. Wall in a fractious relationship. Angas moves into the Museum, reducing Wall’s accommodation to one bedroom and a sitting room. Only the Board room is used for Museum business.

  • The Museum buildings open to the public with an exhibition of NSW products on their way to the Paris International Exhibition of 1855.

  • The Museum is formally opened to the Public with one exhibition gallery.

  • Lobbying begins for a new Museum building to be built on College Street.

  • Five large cases containing casts of fossil remains of extinct animals arrive from the British Museum; there is no room to display them until 1861.


1860s

  • Simon Rood Pittard is appointed curator.

  • Building starts on the College Street wing.

  • Leichardt's hare wallaby arrives at the Museum.

  • Gerard Krefft is appointed curator having previously worked with Pittard as Assistant Curator

  • The Barnet Wing (started in 1861) is opened. Completed the previous year, it triples the exhibition space.

  • Krefft spends his honeymoon excavating the remains of the Diprotodon in the Liverpool ranges. Later this year he carries out further excavation work at Wellington Caves in NSW.

  • George Masters travels to Lord Howe Island; the first of many Museum field trips.


1870s

  • Krefft describes the Queensland lungfish Neoceratodus forsteri ‘a living fossil’ for the first time after seeing it served by a friend (Mr Forster) for dinner.

  • A Megatherium cast is set up in the Central Hall of the new College Street wing.

  • The theft of a gold specimen from the Museum brings to a head conflict between Krefft’s evolutionary ideas and the conservative Trustees, led by William Macleay and Edward Hill. They demand Krefft’s resignation.

  • A Parliamentary committee is set up to enquire into the Museum and asks Krefft to resign. Krefft refuses to leave and is (it is said) forcibly ejected from the Museum with the help of two prize fighters who carry him out of the front door.

  • Edward Pierson Ramsay is appointed head of the Museum, aged 32 and the first Australian-born curator.

  • Edward Palmer is employed to make the first official catalogue of the Museum’s collections. He works two days a week for one guinea a day. By May 1880 he has catalogued 6000 specimens. The uncompleted Palmer catalogue is still in use today.

  • Henry Barnes is employed as taxidermist and later pioneers the use of photography at the Museum.

  • Thousands of objects from the Australian Museum’s anthropological collections are placed on display in the Ethnographic Court at the Sydney International Exhibition, housed in the Garden Palace (in the current Botanic Gardens).


1880s

  • Felix Ratte is employed as the Museum's first full-time mineralogist.

  • The Garden Palace burns down, still housing 2000 Australian Museum collection items. All are presumed lost.

  • Museum Secretary C. R. Buckland is found to have embezzled more than £550 from the Museum’s accounts over the past 3 years.

  • The first Guide to the Museum is produced.

  • Ramsay attends the International Fisheries Exhibition in London. Ramsay also travels extensively in Europe, visiting Museums and collecting more than 3500 specimens.

  • Robert Etheridge leads a three-week field trip to Lord Howe Island; this is the basis for the Museum's first scientific survey of the Island.

  • Ramsay and his family move out of the Museum buildings, making way for more scientific and curatorial staff and the Museum’s expanding library. There are now eight scientific staff employed at the Museum and 19 other employees.

  • The new Ethnology Hall opens and proves to be of great interest to the public.


1890s

  • The first ‘Records of the Australian Museum’ is published, featuring papers relevant to the Museum’s collections and is still published today.

  • A third storey is added to the William Street wing, adding office and scientific workrooms and a new third storey, geological gallery to the Long Gallery

  • The economic depression in NSW means a drastic budget cut. Twelve employees, including all three newly-appointed cadets, are retrenched from a staff of 34. Salaries of remaining employees are cut.

  • Ramsay retires with the Museum in decline, government funding halved, staff shortages, collecting and acquisitions at a standstill and displays overcrowded. Robert Etheridge jnr, who had worked as palaeontologist since 1887, is appointed to replace Ramsay. He has six scientific staff.

  • Charles Hedley joins the Royal Society of London's expedition to Funafuti.

  • A single storey south wing is built along the boundary with Sydney Grammar School for workshops and storage. A stone Spirit House is constructed in the interior courtyard for storing specimens preserved in alcohol.

  • Edgar Waite joins the Thetis Expedition from which a baseline marine survey was produced giving a snapshot of marine life from more than 100 years ago.

  • Work begins on the Vernon wing. Its new spacious and light galleries de-clutter the Museum’s displays and mark the move from the ‘curio’ approach of the earlier galleries.

  • The Cape Horn diorite is donated to the Museum by Phillip Gidley King. It was collected on the 1826 voyage of HMS Beagle and HMS Adenture to South America and the waters around Tierra del Fuego.


1900s

  • The Museum’s first volunteer is recruited: Hereward Leighton Kesteven, who was employed briefly by the Museum in 1903, and after a lifetime spent largely in general practice, returned to the Museum as an Honorary Zoologist.

  • Charles Hedley leads a multi-disciplinary expedition to Masthead Island.

  • Gallery demonstrations begin as the first popular educational activities of the Museum. These prove popular (particular those led by Charles Hedley), and result in a successful bid for government funds to build a lecture theatre (opened in 1910).

  • Museum purchases the Roth Collection - its biggest collection of aboriginal artefacts.

  • William Thorpe becomes Curator of the Museum's expanding collection of ethnological artefacts.

  • The Museum begins a system of scientific 'cadetships’ (junior, untrained scientific assistants). Six cadets are appointed by 1908.


1910s

  • The African Lion Group is purchased from Ward's Natural History Establishment. This is the first example of 'sculpture taxidermy' on display.

  • The Vernon wing plus new lecture theatre opens. To mark the occasion, a sperm whale skeleton is suspended at the front entrance to the Museum. Collected in 1871, the skeleton remains on display today.

  • Charles Hedley (US) and Charles Anderson (Europe) both take leave to go oversees to study museum operations.

  • Wartime austerity means budget cuts. No acquisitions are to be made, lectures are cancelled, publications suspended.


1920s

  • Joyce Allan is appointed to the permanent staff, the first woman on the scientific staff. She had worked temporarily at the Museum for Hedley since 1917. She remains at the Museum until 1956.

  • Mineralogist Charles Anderson is appointed Director. After a contentious appointment process, Charles Hedley is appointed ‘Keeper of Collections’.

  • A Museum expedition to Lord Howe Island is led by Allan McCulloch to collect specimens and ideas for the new dioramas in the Long Gallery.

  • First issue of the Australian Museum Magazine is printed in April. Promoted for a general audience, the magazine was lavishly illustrated, with staff paid for their contributions.

  • The Museum provides lecture demonstrations for blind children.

  • Allan McCulloch joins Frank Hurley on a collecting and photographic expedition to Papua New Guinea from August 1922 to February 1923.

  • The Boatswain Bird diorama goes on display reflecting the new approach of 'reproducing nature', where taxonomists give way to taxidermists.

  • Public lectures are so popular that there are three different series of 16 lectures each – evening lectures, school groups and evening ‘extension’ lectures in the outer suburbs.

  • While on annual leave, Anthony Musgrave and Gilbert Whitley take part in the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales expedition to the Capricorn Group in Queensland.

  • Tension between progressive Trustees and scientific staff over the role of the Museum spills into the popular press with a series of letters and articles in the Daily Telegraph under the heading ‘Museum Turmoil’. According to the Telegraph ‘a basic principle is involved – whether the Museum should be primarily for ‘show purposes’ or whether its chief purpose should be education through scientific research’.

  • The Museum celebrates its centenary in a very low key way with the unveiling of a new bronze plaque by the NSW Premier, T. R. Bavin.

  • Museum staff join the British Great Barrier expedition as the era of Reef research begins.

  • Harold Fletcher joins the Mawson Antarctic expedition for two tours - September 1929 to April 1930, and November 1930 to April 1931.

  • Roy Kinghorn begins presenting science broadcasts titled 'Nature's Wonders'.


1930s

  • Public Service Board inspection of the Museum finds it overstaffed with scientists in general underemployed. Employees became Public Servants; future scientific staff to be recruited from science graduates.

  • The Museum purchases the George Brown Ethnographic collectionof photographs.

  • The Museum’s first car is donated by Harvard Museum of Comparative Anatomy expedition to northern Australia when they leave the country. Secretary Wells originally opposed the acceptance of the car on the grounds that the Museum could not afford to run it.

  • Dr. C. Anderson, H. O. Fletcher and G. C. Clutton expedition to Cuddie Springs (near Brewarrina) which uncovers the bones of Australian megafauna.

  • Lunch time lectures begin in August with a talk on 'Butterflies'.

  • Gilbert Whitley joins Wanderer expedition to Middleton Reef. The aims of the expedition were to obtain salvage from the wreck of the Annasona, to study the life of the reefs, especially the fishes, and trace the currents in the vicinity .

  • Harold Fletcher takes part in the Madigan expedition to the Simpson Desert in Central Australia.


1940s

  • Director Charles Anderson retires; he dies four years later. Geologist Dr A. B. Walkom is appointed Director.

  • The Museum acquires the Thomas Dick photographic collection.

  • Miss Amy Alfreda Vickery bequeaths to the Museum her stamp collection, one of the most valuable in Australia. It goes on exhibition in 1950.

  • Joyce Allan is appointed as head of Conchology; she becomes the first female at the Museum to head a department.

  • Butterfly theft by researcher Colin Wyatt. 3000 specimens are recovered, stolen from the Australian Museum and the South Australian Museum in Adelaide.

  • Mr A. A. Strom is appointed as the first Education Officer.

  • A system of 'science trainees' is commenced, whereby young, male staff are bonded financially to the Museum. They are released for full-time study at the University, but spend their vacations working at the Museum.

  • Frederick McCarthy takes part in Australian-American Arnhem Land Expedition under the leadership of Charles Mountford.


1950s

  • Beryl Graham establishes the Museum 'Schools Service': a program of lectures to comparatively small classes, followed by a class visit to an appropriate section of the Museum.

  • Harold Fletcher leads a Museum Collecting Expedition to North-west Australia to collect fossils, minerals and zoological material.

  • Dr. Walkom retires and Dr. John William Evans is appointed the new director.

  • Donald McMichael and Allen Keast return from Harvard after completing their PhDs. They are the first Museum scientists to obtain their doctoral degrees.

  • The Museum's Design and Art Department is created by Evans to radically overhaul Museum display style.

  • The theatre is remodelled, financed by a generous gift from Sir Edward Hallstrom. It is subsequently renamed the Hallstrom Theatre.

  • The Museum's Department of Exhibitions is established; this means the curators are no longer in control of displays.

  • Annual visitor numbers increase steadily to more than 300,000 visitors annually.


1960s

  • The basement and sub-basement of William Street wing are opened. For the first time, the Museum has purpose-built scientific workspaces.

  • Support staff for scientists are increased to one assistant or technical officer per collection, allowing curators to spend more time on scientific research on their collections. The number of scientific publications quickly increase.

  • Five more floors of the William Street (Parkes-Farmer) wing are opened. They include ethnographic and fossil galleries, and a new library and café.

  • The Discoverers' Club is formed for those children who have completed a whole series of 'Walkabout' worksheets. They go on field trips with the club, and meet every vacation to present papers on the work they have been studying during the term.

  • Evans retires and is replaced by Frank Talbot, previously Curator of Fish. At 36 years of age he is one of the youngest scientists on staff. He receives the Museum’s first ARC grant - $3000 for ichthyological research.

  • First field work is carried out by the Museum on One Tree Island, Great Barrier Reef. By 1971, a permanently-manned field station has been set up there.

  • The new Hall of Fossils is opened, the first major gallery exhibit to be created in nearly fifty years.

  • The Department of Environmental Studies is created under Dr Harry Recher. Its aim is to bring a wider, ecological view to broad problems of environmental conservation.

  • The National Photographic Index of Australian Birds begins, conceived by Donald Trounson as a collection of photographs of every bird in Australia.

  • Great Diamond Heist, occurs. A set of models of famous diamonds are stolen from the Mineral Gallery, only to be returned some months later from Vancouver, Canada, with a note to the effect that 'they are not real'.

  • A four-storey spirit house is constructed to house specimens preserved in 70% alcohol. Provided the spirit is renewed every few years, the specimens should keep indefinitely.


1970s

  • The Museum undertakes a major field trip with Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney, National Parks and Wildlife Service, and CSIRO to carry out an environmental survey of Lord Howe Island.

  • Alex Ritchie joins an expedition to the Kimberley region of Western Australia in the vicinity of Go Go station. The rock samples they collect contain well-preserved fossil Devonian fish.

  • The first of a series of nine Australian Museum films (funded by BHP) is produced by Museum photographer Howard Hughes. Completed in 1974, the series sold over 100 prints and was shown on Australian television.

  • The Museum undertakes its first commercial scientific work – a three-year faunal survey at Sydney Heads.

  • The Australian Museum Society (TAMS) is formed, chaired by Carol Serventy to support the Museum’s activities and ‘interest a broad stratum of the Australian public in the Museum, in the Australian environment and in conservation in its widest sense’. Within three months, 1500 people had joined.

  • Lizard Island Research station is established with a donation by Henry Loomis. Cottages are built in 1974 and a laboratory in 1976.

  • Grants are funding about half the cost of research activities. Twenty staff members are being paid from external funding. Research publications increase from 17 in 1969 to 79 in 1974.

  • A new section initially known as Materials Preservation is set up.

  • The Hall of Life exhibit opens. Designed as almost solely educational, for the first time it contains almost no Museum specimens.

  • The One Tree Island facilities are handed over to the University of Sydney.

  • The Australian Museum Act clarifies role of Trustees and Minister.

  • Dr. Des Griffin is appointed Director of the Museum.

  • The Forge Collection of Balinese temple paintings is purchased. Important items from the Collection go on display for the first time in 1979.

  • Reader’s Digest Complete Book of Australian Birds is published using photographs from NPI.

  • The Museum now has 150 staff and visitors numbers to the Museum reach 600,000.

  • NPI became the National Photographic Index of Australian wildlife with a broader mandate to cover all species of Australian wildlife.

  • The ‘Australian Museum Train’ program is launched to take exhibitions and educational services to the regions.

  • A program of regular concerts and educational Sunday activities for ‘families’ begins.


1980s

  • A visiting curator scheme commences which allows for visiting scientists to study or research major collections.

  • For the first time a media preview is held before an exhibition opening, gaining interest because the Awareness Exhibition includes viewer-participation.

  • The controversial “Stuffed with Life” slogan appears on Government buses.

  • The Australian Museum is recipient of the Museum of the Year Award for best new exhibition for its Mammals in Australia Gallery.

  • Following the upgrade of facilities at the Lizard Island Research Station it is deemed the ‘leading research base’ on the Great Barrier Reef.

  • The first travelling ethnological exhibition ‘Abelam - Museum on the Road’ leaves the museum.

  • The new Skeleton Gallery opens with its interactive exercise bicycle that demonstrates the way a skeleton moves when riding a bicycle.

  • The Museum purchases 94 paintings of western desert art from the early 1970s, which forms the Papunya Permanent Collection.

  • The ‘Dinosaurs from China’ exhibition brings over a quarter of a million visitors to the Museum – the most successful exhibition to date.

  • In recognition of the commitment to efficient collections information management a ‘Database Manager’s’ position is established and a minicomputer system purchased.

  • The Museum purchases a large collection of opalised dinosaur, crocodile, turtle, pterosaur, fish and plant remains, mined in Lightening Ridge by Dave and Alan Galman.

  • The Aboriginal Australia Gallery is opened with its wide-ranging displays, from children's toys to a video showing the impact of European culture on Aboriginal heritage.

  • The Insect Gallery is opened with explanatory text written in cooperation with naturalist Densey Clyne.

  • The Planet of Minerals gallery is opened showing minerals in their environment of formation.

  • Museum anthropologist Betty Meehan is ‘embedded’ with several Aboriginal communities to enhance the documentation of the museum’s anthropological collection.

  • An interactive space designed for children is opened; it is known as the Discovery Room. This is superseded in December 1990, by the new expanded environmental Discovery Space.

  • The Australian Museum repatriation program works with the Canadian Museum of Civilization and representatives of the Kwakwakak'wakw (Kwakiutl) people of Canada's Northwest Coast, to repatriate material from the Cape Mudge area of British Columbia.

  • Richard Leakey opens the ‘Tracks Through Time: The Story of Human Evolution ’ exhibition, followed by ’Rituals of the Human Lifecycle’, an exposition of human cultural diversity.

  • The frozen tissue collection is launched to preserve the genetic material of a vast array of wildlife.

  • Establishment of the Australian Museum Foundation to raise funds through corporate patronage.

  • Opening of 'Taonga Maori', a splendid display of artefacts from New Zealand. The opening in the presence of N. Z. Governor General Sir Paul Reeves is one of the most spectacular and most publicised the Australian Museum has ever staged.


1990s

  • Launch of the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes to reward outstanding achievement in Australian science research and the communication of science to the broader community.

  • Discovery the Night Parrot by Museum ornithologist Walter Boles, a bird species thought to have been extinct.

  • Australian Museum Business Services, the Museum’s professional consulting arm, commences.

  • Two regular events prove particularly popular – ‘Open Day’ bringing nearly 10,000 visitors to look behind the scenes and the annual ‘Dinosaur Picnic’ bringing thousands to the Museum.

  • Gargantuans from the Garden exhibition opens, featuring giant moving animatronic creatures together with actual specimens, large models, stereoscopic scanning electron microscope (SEM) images, interactive displays, audio visuals, models, dioramas, and photos.

  • Quantum, a beloved weekly science television series in Australia, champions the plight of ‘Eric’ - the opalised fossil remains of an Australian pliosaur. The ‘Save Eric’ campaign raises donations from corporate sponsors, and fundraising efforts led by Australian schoolchildren produces over $450,000 with which the Australian Museum is able to successfully purchase the pliosaur for display in the Museum.

  • Australia’s first museum theatre program is introduced; it is designed to innovatively interpret exhibitions and ideas.

  • Dr Allen Greer publishes the impact statement on the Olympic Development of the Brick Pit at Homebush Bay. This marks the beginning of a long-term conservation programme to save the habitat of the Green and Golden Bell Frog.

  • Opening of Search & Discover, a new information and resource centre for natural science and Aboriginal cultural heritage. This replaces the previous Discovery Space.

  • Museum mammalogist Dr Tim Flannery describes a new species of tree-kangaroo, Dingiso Dendrolagus mbaiso, after learning of the existence of this black and white tree kangaroo from the high altitude, mossy forests of the Sudirman Range in West Papua several years previously.

  • The Albert Chapman mineral gallery is opened to permanently display the world renowned collection which has been purchased by the NSW Government in 1988 and transferred to the Australian Museum in 1995. Over half of the vast collection of 820 specimens is Australian.

  • The Aboriginal Heritage Unit is created as part of Anthropology, to 'act as an intermediary between the Australian Museum and the indigenous communities of Australia on issues of indigenous cultural heritage management' and to facilitate the repatriation program.

  • Dianne Bray and Mark McGrouther of the Museum’s ichthyology section, join staff from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington and the Milwaukee Public Museum, on a five week trip to survey the fishes of the northern part of Vanuatu - part of this unique collection is now held in the Australian Museum's extensive Fish Collection.

  • Australian Museum website is launched.

  • Opening of Djamu, the Museum’s offsite Indigenous Gallery at Customs House, Circular Quay.

  • Dr Mike Archer appointed Director of the Museum.

  • Sixty-three years after the last animal died, the Rheuben Griffiths Trust is launched to fund research into cloning the extinct Tasmanian Tiger using DNA extracted from a preserved thylacine pup in the Australian Museum collection.

  • The Audience Research Centre is established.

  • ‘Kids Island’ opens to the delight of the under-5s.


2000s

  • The Australian Museum website wins the NSW Premier’s 2000 Public Sector Gold Award for best practice in the provision of services using the internet.

  • A rural associate museum ‘The Age of Fishes Museum’ in Canowindra is officially opened.

  • The spectacular mineral and dinosaur Somerville Collection is donated by Warren Somerville to be part of the permanent collection of the Australian Museum.

  • The Commonwealth and state governments jointly award a grant to the Aboriginal Heritage Unit for a program of repartiation of Aboriginal remains.

  • The Museum celebrates its 175th birthday.

  • Announcement of the discovery by Museum scientists and others of 15 remote Aboriginal sites with rock paintings, drawings, stencils and engravings in Wollemi National Park.

  • Frank Howarth is appointed Director of the Museum.

  • Stage 1 of the Museum revitalisation program begins with the allocation by the NSW state government of $40.9 million over five years.

  • Staging of a major exhibition showcasing content from the Museum’s own collections ‘Uncovered: Treasures of the Australian Museum’.

  • The Australian Museum/Rio Tinto partnership launches BioMaps – Australia’s most advanced biodiversity mapping and analysis website at the time.

  • The Museum's long running publication 'Nature Australia' is closed down.

  • The Australian Museum partners with the National Museum of Vanuatu to train staff from the Museum in Vanuatu to reconstruct Lapita pots from fragments.

  • Dave Britton of the Australian Museum discovers a caterpillar of the Southern Pink Underwing moth near Bellingen in northern NSW. This is considered a southern outlier for the species.

  • Rebranding of the Museum and launch of the new logo depicting an Aboriginal rock engraving of an echidna and carrying the tagline ‘nature culture discover’.

  • The Museum celebrates its 180th anniversary.

  • For curious pre-schoolers, Kidspace is opened early in the year to replace Kid's Island.

  • The new Collection and Research building on the College Street site is completed adding 5000 square metres of office, laboratory and storage areas for scientists.

  • The Museum first participates in the Connected Classrooms program. This ongoing video-conferencing program run by the Department of Education and Training (DET), allows the Museum to reach school students across all of New South Wales.

  • Two new permanent galleries are opened: ‘Dinosaurs’ and ‘Surviving Australia’.

  • The Museum joins the International Barcode of Life project to create an online DNA barcode register of 500,000 species worldwide.

  • 'Science in the City, Science in the Suburbs and Science in the Bush' delivers hands-on science workshops, shows, talks and an Expo to 12,000 high school and primary school students in communities across NSW.

  • 'Egyptian Treasures: Art of the Pharaohs' exhibition is launched. The exhibition came to the Australian Museum from Kunsthistorisches Museum ('Museum of Art History') in Vienna, as part of its Asian tour.

  • The Museum begins a program in partnership with Juvenile Justice, Fairfield Office. The aim is to help reduce offending behaiour in 'at risk' Pacific youth, by creating stronger connections to culture through access to culturally signifcant artefacts from the Pacific Collection.

  • A pilot version of the Virtual Museum of the Pacific (VMP) showcasing 400 artefacts from the Museum’s Pacific Collection is launched in November.


2010s

  • The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) website  begins to aggregate Australia's biodiversity information. It connects to Ozcam, the Online Zoological Collections of Australian Museums, which provides online access to a database of records aggregated from faunal collections databases in Australian museums.

  • Body Pacifica’ exhibition is launched at the Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre with a three day festival celebrating Pacific culture. It features the work of five Pacific artists based on their response to items from the Australian Museum's Pacific collection.

  • Launch of a research project into the DNA sequencing of the Golden Mantle Tree Kangaroo. The project is financed by the Hermon Slade Foundation and aims to clearly classify the species to assist in conservation.

  • Jurassic Lounge begins its program of after-hours arts, music and entertainment at the Museum.

  • The Australian Museum launches its first iPhone App - about Australia's most dangerous animals called ‘DangerOz’.

  • 'Yiwarrra Kuju: the Canning Stock Route' exhibition opens.

  • Museum scientists and scientists from New Zealand jointly investigate the biodiversity of the Kermadec Island marine reserve.

  • 'Rituals of Seduction: Birds of Paradise' exhibition opens.

  • The DigiVol program program begins. A world-class team of volunteers photograph and digitise the museum's collections, making them more available to the general public.

  • Beauty from Nature: Art of the Scott Sisters exhibition opens at the Museum featuring exquisite butterfly illustrations and showing how their lives on Ash Island, now Kooragang wetlands, influenced the sisters' art. The exhibition goes on tour and proves very popular.

  • Opening of the major exhibition ‘Alexander the Great’. This is the largest collection of treasures to ever come to Australia from the world famous State Hermitage in St Petersburg, Russia with over 400 objects from classical antiquity through to the modern age, spanning a period of almost 2500 years.

  • Museum scientists undertake one of their largest surveys ever, into the land and marine fauna of Timor Leste.

  • The Museum purchases Ghost Net - Sea Blanket. The piece was created by artists from Erub, also known as Darnley Island. Ghost net is the term for abandoned or lost fishing nets that wash around in the current and trap and kill wildlife.

  • The Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics is established at the Museum.

  • The Museum takes over hosting the Streamwatch program, previously hosted by Sydney Water.

  • The Australian Museum Research Institute is established in September, and officially launched in 2014.

  • Launch of the Koala Genome Project. A consortium of Australian scientists led by the Australian Museum and the Queensland University of Technology announced a world first break through with the completion of the initial sequencing of the koala genome, the genetic blueprint for koalas.

  • Kim McKay is appointed Museum Director and CEO.

  • The Museum announces a new partnership with travel provider, Adventure World.

  • The Aztec Exhibition opens at the Museum.

  • The Museum's travelling exhibition: Tyrannosaurs - Meet the Family wins the best temporary/travelling exhibition category of the Museums and Galleries National Awards (MAGNA). The related Tyrannosaurs Gaming app, also proves very popular.

  • The Museum on the Wall initiative begins to bring Museum displays to hospitals. The first display is Australian Museum takes Flight, in the outpatients area of the Royal North Shore Hospital.

  • Museum entomologist Chris Reid, takes part in a workshop in Lae aimed at giving local people a working knowledge of entomology. This knowledge will enable the participants to recognise insects that may prove to be agricultural pests and quarantine threats. More such workshops are planned, not just for PNG, but for participants from all of the ASEAN countries.

  • Annoucement of free general admission  for children under 16 to both the Australian Museum and the Powerhouse Museum..

  • The Museum creates the Centre for Citizen Science to promote both current and future citizen science projects such as Streamwatch.

  • The new Australian Museum zigzag logo is launched.

  • The Museum's new main entry pavillion on William Street, the Crystal Hall, is opened. It wins a 2016 Public Architecture Award.

  • The closure of the main College Street entrance in the Barnet wing allows the new Wild Planet gallery to be opened.

  • The Museum opens the Pacific Spirit gallery  to showcase the Museum's amazing Pacific collection .

  • The Museum opens the First Australians galleries to display treasures from the Museum's extensive Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island collection.

  • The very popular Trailblazers exhibition opens at the Museum.

  • The Museum partners with Westpac to create an exhibition of 200 treasures from the entire Museum collection, and to restore the Long Gallery. This was the first museum gallery in Australia and will be home to the 200 Treasures exhibition.

  • The Museum offers the first AMRI visiting collection fellowship for research that corresponds with AMRI research priorities.

  • The two 'made for virtual reality' documentaries, David Attenborough's Virtual Reality Experiences, make their Australian debut at the Museum.

  • Museum's Discovery Centre Castle Hill is completed. This is both an exhibition space and an offsite collection store for the Australian Museum, the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (Powerhouse), and Sydney Living Museums.

  • 'Spiders Alive & Deadly', the exhibition jointly created by the Museum and Questacon, is launched at the Museum.

  • Following on from the 2011 Scott Sisters exhibition, the Transformation: Art of the Scott Sisters exhibition opens at the Museum. The exhibition takes an in-depth look at some of the beautiful illustrations and traces the lives of the sisters.

  • Sir David Attenborough is made a Lifetime Patron of the Museum, and a large species of Tasmanian snail is named after him.

  • The Museum partners with Stockland to tour a life-sized model of a Tyrannosaurus Rex around Stockland shopping centres in Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and the mid-north coast. The huge creature, complete with removable organs was a gift from National Geographic in 2016.

  • Museum scientists undertake a comprehensive survey of native and introduced fauna on Lord Howe Island. Not only does the expedition investigate the endangered Lord Howe Island phasmid, it uncovers a beetle not seen for nearly 140 years.