4145.0 - Selected Museums, Australia, 1997-98  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 08/06/1999   
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  • There were 1,473 museums operating at 30 June 1998 which did not employ staff or were parts of government or corporate organisations whose main focus was not the museum (such as university or local government museums).

  • There were 779 social history museums/displays, 195 art museums (including craft museums, public galleries and displays of art and craft works), 283 historic places, including house museums, which housed heritage collections open to the public, 117 transport and maritime museums, 84 natural history and science museums/displays and 15 Indigenous keeping places.

  • Of the 1,473 museums, 632 (43%) had either a working proprietor or employed staff. The remaining museums were staffed by volunteers only or did not require an attendant.

  • The museums employed a total of 2,027 people in June 1998 and received help from 15,640 volunteers in the month.

  • Just over half (52%) of the 632 museums with employed people had at least one employed person trained in conservation of objects and/or management of a collection. By comparison, 39% of the 1,037 museums with volunteers had at least one trained volunteer.

  • During 1997-98, museums received $85m income, an average of $58,000 per museum, and incurred $77m in current expenditure.

  • The main source of income was government funding of $58m (68%). The other major sources were admissions income which was $8m (9%) and funding from non-government organisations and individuals comprised $7m (8%).

  • During 1997-98, there were 13.3 million admissions, giving an average of 9,100 admissions per museum. Free admissions accounted for 74% of total admissions.

  • Nearly half (43%) of museums were holding less than 1,000 artefacts, art works and museum objects at 30 June 1998. These museums had approximately two-thirds of their objects on display. However, for all museums, only 8.2% of objects were on display, as those with 36,000 or more objects had only 4.6% of their holdings on display.

  • At 30 June 1998, 19% of objects were documented with at least the minimum fields recommended by Australian Museums on Line (AMOL) and 2% of objects were documented on computer databases.

  • The museums reported that 1.4% of their objects were surveyed for conservation and preservation treatment during 1997-98. Only 0.2% required conservation treatment at 30 June 1998 after being surveyed. During 1997-98, 1.1% of objects received conservation and preservation treatment.

  • Just over a quarter (27%) of the museums reported that their collections, or part of their collections, had been assessed for significance prior to 30 June 1998.


This publication presents the findings of the 1997-98 Survey of Selected Museums, the second survey of museum activity conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in recent years.

The first survey was conducted in respect of 1996-97, the results of which were published in
Libraries and Museums, Australia, 1996-97 (cat. no. 8649.0). That survey covered employing businesses whose main activity was the provision of museum services. Also included were the museum operations of some local government authorities.

The second survey was in respect of 1997-98, and covered museums that either did not employ staff or were part of a larger organisation whose predominant activity was not providing museum services. It was designed to complement information presented in
Libraries and Museums, Australia, 1996-97 (cat. no. 8649.0), but museums operated by local government authorities were included in both surveys.

The 1997-98 survey was funded by the Commonwealth Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts.