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Frank Howarth PSM

Frank Howarth trained as a geologist, completing a BSc in Geology at Macquarie University, followed by a Master of Science and Society from the University of NSW, focusing on science and biotechnology policy. Frank joined the NSW Government in 1981 and held positions with the Department of Industrial Development and Decentralisation, NSW Science and Technology Council, the Public Service Board, and the Roads and Traffic Authority. In 1996 he became Director and Chief Executive of the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust. In September 2003 Frank spent six months as Executive Director, Policy and Science at the NSW Department of Environment and Conservation, before taking up the role of Director of the Australian Museum in February 2004.

Frank Howarth, Director, 2004 - 2014.
Frank Howarth, Director, 2004 - 2014. Image: Stuart Humphreys
© Australian Museum

In his 10 years as Director Frank oversaw many initiatives and positive changes to the operations of this, Australia’s oldest museum. They included the opening of the custom designed Collections & Research building in 2008; securing the Alexander the Great exhibition (Australia’s first touring exhibition from the State Hermitage in St Petersburg); the creation of both the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics in 2012 and the Australian Museum Research Institute in 2013; the refurbishment and renewal of Menagerie in the Indigenous Australians gallery; the display here, and then on tour for nearly two years, of Beauty From Nature (Art of the Scott Sisters ) an exhibition sourced from our own Archives; as well as a diverse range of exhibitions, including the Wildlife Photographer of the Year, the Canning Stock Route, Deep Oceans and Birds of Paradise. Many of these fulfilled the Museum’s mission of an exploration of nature and culture, in combination and as stand alone exhibits, and like the Scott Sisters, went on to very successful tours.

Under his leadership the Australian Museum also introduced video conference learning programs for schools across NSW; six seasons of the Museum’s highly successful after hours program, Jurassic Lounge, where Museum artefacts, exhibitions and science literally collided with a terrific range of live theatre and music; and the consolidation of the Museum’s consulting services into a profitable business unit. In 2012–13 the Museum also achieved record visitor attendance since it began charging entry fees in the 1980’s. In addition, by the time Frank left in 2014, the Museum’s WHS statistics were reduced enormously, to one injury in every 10,000 Museum visitors.

Frank was Chair of ICOM Australia (2010-2013), and a director of Museums and Galleries NSW (2005-2013). He was also a director of the Somerville Collection Board, the Australian Museum Foundation and the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation and a member of the Executive of the Council of Australasian Museum Directors. He became President of Museums Australia in 2013. Frank continues in his role as Director of the Australian Museum Foundation. At the meeting of Australian Museum Trustees held on 29 April he was appointed an Honorary Associate for a period of three years, to support and promote the Museum, its mission and its programs and activities.