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1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2004  
Previous ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/02/2004   
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Contents >> Culture and recreation >> Museums and art galleries

In March 2002, Museums Australia - the peak industry association and professional body representing museums in Australia - adopted the following definition of ‘museums’:

      A museum helps people understand the world by using objects and ideas to interpret the past and present and explore the future. A museum preserves and researches collections, and makes objects and information accessible in actual and virtual environments. Museums are established in the public interest, and operate as not-for-profit organisations.

      Museums Australia recognises that museums of science, history and art may be designated by many other names (including gallery and Keeping Place). In addition, the following may qualify as museums for the purposes of this definition:

      (a) natural, archaeological and ethnographic monuments and sites, and historical monuments and sites of a museum nature that acquire, conserve and communicate material evidence of people and their environment;

      (b) institutions holding collections, and displaying specimens, of plants and animals, such as botanical and zoological gardens, herbaria, aquaria and vivaria;

      (c) science centres;

      (d) cultural centres and other entities that facilitate the preservation, continuation and management of tangible or intangible heritage resources (e.g. living heritage and digital creative activity); and

      (e) other institutions that the Council of Museums Australia considers have some or all of the characteristics of a museum.
The main Commonwealth museums are the National Museum of Australia, the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian National Maritime Museum, the Australian War Memorial, the National Science and Technology Centre (Questacon), and the National Portrait Gallery.

Australian Museums and Galleries On Line (AMOL, formerly known as Australian Museums On Line) provides access to a database of information on over 1,500 national, state, territory, regional and local museums across Australia at <http://amol.org.au>. Information about items held by museums is accessible through a range of search options, such as region, collection type and collection strength.

Information about Museums Australia, and links to museums and other museum associations, can be obtained from the web sites: Museums Australia at <http://www.museumsaustralia.org.au> and the National Museum of Australia at <http://www.nma.gov.au>.

Museum attendance

The 2002 Survey of Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events showed that 24.9% of the Australian population aged 18 and over (3.6 million people) had visited an art gallery at least once in the previous 12 months (table 12.4). This is higher than the attendance rate of 20.9% (2.9 million people) determined when the survey was run in 1999. The attendance rate at museums (other than art galleries) was 25.0% (3.6 million people) in 2002, compared with 19.6% (2.8 million people) in 1999. This large rise in attendance can be partly explained by the temporary closure of some large museums during the 1999 survey period.

12.4 ATTENDANCE(a) AT MUSEUMS - 2002

Art galleries
Museums
Attendance rate(b)
%
%

Males
22.0
24.6
Females
27.7
25.4
Persons
24.9
25.0
Age group (years)
18-24
23.8
22.3
25-34
23.9
27.0
35-44
25.8
29.1
45-54
27.8
25.3
55-64
28.0
25.7
65 and over
19.7
18.3
Birthplace
Australia
24.8
24.9
Main English-speaking countries
29.0
29.6
Other countries
22.6
22.6

(a) Attendance at least once in the 12 months prior to interview in 2002.
(b) The number of people who attended, expressed as a percentage of the number of people in that population group.
Source: Attendance at Selected Cultural Venues and Events, Australia, 2002 (4114.0).

Museums industry

The ABS conducted a survey of museums in respect of the 1999-2000 financial year. Museums were defined for the purpose of the survey as organisations operating enclosed areas storing artefacts, artworks and museum objects, and which were open to the general public.

At the end of June 2000, there were 2,049 museum establishments comprising 249 art museums/galleries, 411 historic properties and 1,389 other museums (e.g. social history, natural history and science museums) (table 12.5). The majority of museum establishments (58.0%) were operated without employees, relying on the assistance of 14,570 volunteers. Museums with employees also rely on the services of volunteers. The 861 museum establishments with employees, at the end of June 2000, had a total of 6,956 employees or working proprietors and 15,393 volunteers.

The 78 museums with 100 or more employees averaged 121,300 admissions each (or 34.4% of total museum admissions) in 1999-2000. This compares with an average of 34,800 admissions for museums with 20-99 employees, 29,100 admissions for museums with 5-19 employees and 7,100 admissions for museums with 1-4 employees. Museums which were operated solely by volunteers had an average of 4,200 admissions in 1999-2000.

At the end of June 2000, there were 61.6 million artefacts, artworks and museum objects located in museums, of which 16.1% were on display. The majority (59.3%) of these artefacts, artworks and museum objects were in the 78 large museums with employment of 100 or more. These large museums displayed only 1.6% of their artefacts, artworks and museum objects.

12.5 MUSEUMS - 1999-2000

Units
Art museums/galleries
Historic properties
Other museums
Total

Museum/gallery establishments at end June 2000
no.
249
411
1,389
2,049
Artefacts/artworks/museum objects at end of June 2000
'000
1,157.5
*2,740.0
57,737.8
61,635.3
Admissions during the year ended 30 June 2000
’000
6,527.6
*7,260.0
13,744.2
27,531.8
Employment at end June 2000
no.
1,741
1,010
4,205
6,956
Volunteers for the month of June 2000
no.
4,177
5,929
19,857
29,963
Income
$m
197.2
64.4
454.8
716.4
Expenses
$m
164.4
57.4
420.7
642.5

Source: Museums, Australia, 1999-2000 (8560.0).

Commercial art galleries

The ABS conducted a survey of commercial art gallery businesses (including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art centres) in respect of 1999-2000. Commercial art galleries were defined as businesses whose primary activity was the display and sale of artworks. Auction houses and businesses where artists sold artwork directly to the consumer were not included.

At the end of June 2000, there were 514 commercial art gallery businesses operating in Australia, comprising 31 which self-identified their main activity as being Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art centres. There were 1,409 persons employed by commercial art gallery businesses at the end of June 2000, comprising 435 working proprietors and partners, 389 permanent full-time employees, 337 permanent part-time employees and 249 casual employees (table 12.6).

12.6 COMMERCIAL ART GALLERIES - 1999-2000

Units
Value

Businesses at end June 2000
no.
514
Locations/outlets
no.
573
Employment at end June 2000
Males
no.
552
Females
no.
857
Persons
no.
1,409
Income
Commission income from the sale of artworks
$m
43.4
Income from the sale of artworks owned by the business
$m
72.7
Other income
$m
15.6
Total
$m
131.8
Expenses
Purchases of artworks for resale
$m
44.4
Wages and salaries
$m
22.0
Other
$m
55.7
Total
$m
122.1
Operating profit before tax
$m
*8.8

Source: Commercial Art Galleries, Australia, 1999-2000 (8651.0).


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