Meet our Directors

Kim McKay AO, Director + CEO, Australian Museum headshot

Kim McKay, AO

Director & CEO

Kim McKay leads the strategic direction and management of the nation’s first museum.

Driving a community understanding of science and the environment to effect positive change has been at the core of her international career. Kim cofounded the iconic Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World campaigns in the 1990’s and has since been focused on the environment, sustainability and public communications including working in non-fiction television for over a decade.

Since being appointed as Director and CEO in 2014 (the first woman in the AM’s 190-plus year history), Kim has initiated a broad transformation program including Project Discover, the AM’s $57.5m highly awarded renovation of public spaces.

Completed in November 2020, Project Discover is an important step in the realisation of the AM’s Master Plan and Vision 2027 plans – marking the AM’s 200th anniversary.

Other initiatives at the AM under her leadership have included introducing free general admission for the public; constructing a new award-winning entrance pavilion, Brian Sherman Crystal Hall; creating new galleries and programs, including the restoration of the heritage Westpac Long Gallery, establishing the Australian Museum Centre for Citizen Science and undertaking a comprehensive re-branding campaign.

Prior to being appointed, she served for two years as a Trustee of the AM (2012-2014).

Before joining the AM, Kim was Director of Momentum2 Pty Ltd, a Sydney-based sustainability and communications agency and worked in the USA for the Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channels International where she was Senior Vice President Global Marketing and Communications and subsequently held long-term consulting roles with the National Geographic Society.

She was awarded Australian Geographic’s Lifetime of Conservation Award in 2013 and was named as one of The Australian Financial Review and Westpac 100 Women of Influence in 2011. The co-author of five books in the True Green series published in Australia (ABC Books) and internationally by Nat Geo, Kim holds a BA in Communications from UTS receiving the UTS Chancellors award for Excellence in 2010 and was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW in 2021.

Kim was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2008 for distinguished service to the environment and the community.

Corporate portrait

Russell Briggs

Director, Engagement, Exhibitions & Cultural Connection

Russell Briggs is the Director of Museum Experience and Engagement at the AM, beginning his tenure in September 2017. Russell leads the team responsible for permanent, temporary and touring exhibitions; Visitor Services and Front of House; Digital; public and education programs; the AM’s Archives and Library; and the Museum’s extensive World Culture collections.

A native of California, Russell moved to New Zealand in 2002 and joined the team at Auckland Museum from 2007 to 2012. There he held the position of Director of Exhibitions and Programmes and was Director of the War Memorial during planning for the WWI Centenary. He then joined the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne, where he was Director of Exhibitions and Collections from 2012 to 2017. Russell holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Amanda Farrar

Amanda Farrar

Director, Public Affairs & Development

Amanda has held senior leadership positions within the public service, television & media sectors for over 20 years. Amanda was appointed Director, Public Affairs and Development in 2018 responsible for securing government and philanthropic support for major capital infrastructure projects and the Museum’s flagship science, education and cultural programs.

Amanda is also responsible for external stakeholder relationships that support the AM’s strategic direction and the executive champion for access, diversity and inclusion, sustainability and the AM’s Reconciliation Action Plan.

Amanda’s leadership skills have been recognised through the Public Service Commission’s Leadership Academy senior executive program (2021) & the Council of Australian Museum Director’s Executive Mentoring program (2018).

Amanda has been part of the Australian Museum’s executive leadership team since 2016. Amanda was previously a senior advisor to former NSW Premier, Hon. Mike Baird and the former Managing Director of National Geographic Channel Australia/New Zealand with a depth of marketing, advertising, communications and digital broadcasting experience.

Amanda has a personal interest in First Nations affairs and community building and has been actively engaged in several place management and community building committees.

Kris Helgen

Professor Kris Helgen

Chief Scientist and Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI)

Professor Kristofer M. Helgen was appointed Chief Scientist and Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) in June 2020. He is responsible for the AMRI team of more than 100 staff, including research scientists, collection scientists, collection officers and more than 130 associates, fellows and students, who research and explore the natural world.

Kris was most recently Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide. He has focused his research primarily on fieldwork with living animals and on museum collections to document the richness of life, understand global change, and contribute to important problems in biomedicine. Originally from Minnesota, Kris gained his undergraduate degree in Biology at Harvard University and his PhD in Zoology at the University of Adelaide. From 2008 to 2017 he served as Curator-in-Charge of Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.

Kris holds additional academic appointments at the University of New South Wales, the Natural History Museum (London), the Bishop Museum (Hawaii), the South Australian Museum (Adelaide), and George Mason University (Virginia). He is a board member of Zoos South Australia, Conservation International (Australia), the International Koala Centre of Excellence, and TCS World Travel. He has been recognised as a Fulbright Fellow, a National Geographic Society Explorer, a CNN Inspirations Researcher, and was named on the list of the “Most Innovative Under 40” by Business Insider magazine in 2013.

Laura McBride

Laura McBride

Director, First Nations

Laura McBride is a Wailwan and Kooma woman and Director, First Nations at the Australian Museum (AM). Laura leads the First Nations strategic direction and operations and also manages the Archaeology, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Pasifika cultural collections.

Laura’s vision for the AM centres on prioritising and amplifying First Nations voices so that Aboriginal, Torres Strait Islander, and Pasifika communities represent themselves and their cultures within the Museum. Laura has played a pivotal role in assisting the Executive Leadership Team in planning and actioning the vision for the AM to move beyond its colonial past towards a more connected future with First Nations stakeholders and knowledge-holders. Indigenous self-determination in representation, care, classification and use of cultural objects, is leading the first Nations strategic direction.

Laura has 15 years professional experience working in Museums, Indigenous education, and cultural heritage. Laura is an award-winning curator and lead First Nations storytelling with GADI and UNSETTLED exhibitions.

Laura’s academic qualifications include a Bachelor of Arts (University of Sydney) conferred in 2008 (double Major in Psychology and Australian Indigenous Studies), and Master of Aboriginal Education (University of Technology Sydney) conferred in 2012.

Jacinta Spurrett

Jacinta Spurrett

Director, Marketing, Communications & Partnerships

Jacinta joined the AM as Director, Marketing, Communications and Partnerships in 2016. She is a highly experienced leader in all three sectors and brings a wide range of strategic skills and knowledge to the role. An executive and director, with a demonstrated history of working in both the ‘for profit’ and ‘not for profit’ sectors, her 25 plus year professional career encompasses specialist fiscal and general management experience across a diverse group of organisations.

For the eight years prior to joining the AM, Jacinta was CEO of the Eye Surgeons’ Foundation where she managed a significant strategic and financial turn-around for the organisation. Previous roles include Managing Director of the National Geographic Channel Australia/New Zealand and Managing Director of leading Sydney public relations firm Prue MacSween & Associates. Jacinta has a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from the University of Canberra.

As part of the Executive Leadership Team at the AM, Jacinta is responsible for the oversight, business development and revenues associated with marketing, communications, sponsorship and partnerships, visitation, membership, tourism, retail, venues and other commercial activities.

Maggie Chien

Maggie Chien

Senior Human Resources Business Partner, People & Culture

Maggie joined the AM in 2006 and was appointed to the Executive Leadership Team in February 2018. Maggie has over 15 years’ experience in Human Resources and brings an in-depth knowledge of NSW public sector employment frameworks. She has extensive experience in working to deliver government initiatives in strategic workforce reform.

Maggie has partnered with senior leaders to define organizational strategy, analyse business directions, and establish practical long-term capability-based workforce strategy. The aim is to guide the AM through the required changes and achieve business outcomes. On the operations side, the People & Culture team, led by Maggie, delivers customer focused HR services to optimize the employment life-cycle experience of each staff member and at the organizational level. Maggie holds a Masters of Human Resources Management from UNSW Sydney and is an AHRI Certified Academic of Human Resources (CAHR).

People & Culture’s purpose is to optimise The Australian Museum’s outcomes through the provision of integrated people and performance solutions to achieve an agile, engaged and high performing workforce. People & Culture’s function:

  • Develop strategic partnerships with our clients to provide people advice and solutions that anticipate and meet their business needs.
  • Provide expert advice, support and tailored options to the business to enable them to effectively manage HR matters
  • Support our clients to develop workplace cultures that foster high performance, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion.
  • Facilitate effective and efficient people related change processes for our clients that minimise risk and ensure business continuity.
  • Coach our clients to manage and enhance the performance of their employeesand effectively manage grievance, workplace issues and underperformance processes.
  • Advise and support our clients to undertake organisational design, ensuring optimal structures and roles are in place to meet business needs.
  • Develop the capability of leaders in the business to manage their people through the provision of guidance and coaching.