Sydney, Thursday 22 November, 2018: The Australian Museum’s (AM) Annual Report 2017-18, tabled in NSW Parliament today, revealed that the Museum’s 21.9 million specimen and object collection, along with its heritage buildings and infrastructure, has been revalued upwards to $1billion.*

Previously the collection, the largest in the region, was valued at $486 million in June 2013. It has now been valued at $773 million by independent valuers JLL, reflecting the calibre of the natural science and cultural collections which have been acquired by the AM since it was founded in 1827.

“This significant increase in the value of the Museum’s assets underscores the importance of the institution to the people of NSW and highlights the significant work involved in the ongoing stewardship and conservation of the collection and buildings now valued at $1billion,” Kim McKay AO, Director and CEO of the AM said.

In other achievements, the AM has again recorded an increase in public visitation – the third consecutive year of growth. From 2015 to 2018, the AM’s onsite visitation has increased by a total of 25% to 473,687 exceeding the Premier’s target of 15% growth in visitation across the cultural sector, for the period.

According to Ms McKay, the growth is attributable to the collective impact of a number of the AM’s recent initiatives along with a general rise in Sydney’s population.

“These initiatives include the introduction of Kids Free in 2015; improved visitor experience with the transformation of galleries and public spaces including the new Crystal Hall entrance and Westpac Long Gallery; a significant increase in international tourism visitation led by the AM’s programs to grow the Chinese market; and the appeal of blockbuster exhibitions such as Mammoths, Giants of the Ice Age attracting in excess of 150,000 visitors in the past year,” she said.

In June 2018, the NSW Government announced its continued support of the AM with a $50.5 million cultural grant to expand the AM’s touring exhibition halls, educational facilities and public amenities. Known as Project Discover, the AM will convert existing storage space to state-of-the-art exhibition facilities, increasing the AM’s capacity to host ‘blockbuster’ international touring exhibitions such as Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh due to open at the AM in early 2021.

“The uplift in visitation combined with the growth in philanthropic and corporate support, membership and other commercial activities, means that the AM now generates almost 40% of its total operating revenue,” Ms McKay said.

The Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI) continued to make a global impact with the discovery of 123 new species and 187 scientific publications, as well as the launch of a national flagship citizen science project, Frog ID which recorded more than 50,000 downloads in the first eight months of the program.


* Actual value: $999.689 million

The AM’s highlights in 2017-18 included:

  • Conservation and stewardship of more than 21.9 million objects and specimens in the AM collection.
  • Consistent improvement of the AM’s visitor experience both onsite and through outreach across the State which resulted in more than 935,000 people actively engaged in the AM’s exhibition and education programs.
  • More than 125,000 students engaged with the AM’s educational outreach programs.
  • Visitation to the AM was 473,687, up more than 7% from 2016/17 and 25% since 2015. A further 326,000 people visited AM touring exhibitions across Australia and North America.
  • In 2017-18, 62% of visitors to the AM came from Greater Sydney, followed by international tourists 23%. The remaining 15% of visitors hailed from intra and interstate.
  • Total revenue from admissions increased by 6% per cent to $5 million.
  • Overall, total revenue in 2017-18 was $43 million.
  • During the period, a number of new sponsor partners joined the AM including Stockland, Bunnings and Fyna Foods. The combined value of financial and in-kind support to the AM from sponsors was $4.1million.
  • Donations to the AM and and the Australian Museum Foundation reached $1,008,115.
  • The AM welcomed 9360 new members, growing the membership community by 13%.
  • In its first year, the AM’s rooftop café, No. 1 William, recorded more than 200,000 customers and 288 catered functions were held at the Museum.
  • Over 40,000 students participated in the AM’s education programs including the Sydney Science Festival while the Museum in a Box outreach program reached over 111,000 people at schools and in aged care across NSW.
  • 43,000 people attended AM programs onsite and across the State including Jurassic Lounge and Murder at the Museum; there was a significant increase in cultural programs developed by First Nations staff and knowledge holders, as well as programs developed in partnership with Western Sydney cultural institutions.
  • The AM’s flagship citizen science program received 50,000 downloads of the free FrogID app with 24,000 frog calls uploaded and 161 frog species identified.
  • The audience reach through media coverage increased by 18% - while social media coverage increased by 24%.
  • More than 700 volunteers contributed 88,000 hours of service to the AM.

About the Australian Museum (AM)

The AM, founded in 1827 is the nation’s first museum, and is an internationally recognised natural science and culture institution focused on Australia and the Pacific. As custodian of more than 21 million objects and specimens, the AM is uniquely positioned to provide a greater understanding of the region through its scientific research, exhibitions and public and education programs. Through the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), the AM also has a leading role in conserving Australia’s biodiversity through understanding the environmental impacts of climate change, potential biosecurity threats and invasive species.

Media contact

Claire Vince, Media Advisor
T +61 2 9320 6181 | M +61 468 726 910