8560.0 - Museums, Australia, 2007-08 Quality Declaration 
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 27/03/2009   
   Page tools: Print Print Page Print all pages in this productPrint All





Improvements to coverage

Statistical unit

Comparison with other ABS statistics

Historical comparisons

Reliability of the data


Reference period




1 This publication presents results from a survey of organisations engaged in museum and art gallery operations for the reference year 2007-08. This is the fifth time the ABS has conducted a survey of museums. Previous surveys were undertaken in respect of the 2003-04, 1999-2000, 1997-98 and 1996-97 reference periods.


2 The scope of the 2007-08 Museums Survey was employing and non-employing businesses and organisations classified to the Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification 2006 Edition (ANZSIC06) Class 8910 - Museum Operations. These organisations were mainly engaged in the operation of museums and art galleries. The scope also included other museums/galleries registered as having a collection with Collections Australia Network.

3 The types of museums in scope of this survey were: historic trusts and sites; historic societies with a collection; house museums; social and natural history museums; archives (excluding the national and state archives); art galleries (excluding commercial art galleries); keeping places and cultural centres; outdoor museums; science museums; maritime museums; military museums and transport museums.

4 Museums and galleries were only included if they were open to the general public during the 2007-08 reference year. The scope excluded organisations mainly engaged in the operation of botanic gardens; herbariums; zoological gardens; aquariums; observatories and planetariums; public libraries; and science centres.


5 The estimates in this publication are based on ANZSIC06. Data in previous issues were based on the 1993 version of the ANZSIC (ANZSIC93). ANZSIC06 was adopted to provide a more contemporary industrial classification system, taking into account issues such as changes in the structure and composition of the economy, changing user demands and compatibility with international classification standards.

6 There is a direct one to one concordance between ANZSIC93 Class 9220 - Museums and ANZSIC06 Class 8910 - Museum operations.


7 The ABS Business Register (refer to paragraph 13 for a description) provided the population of employing and non-employing organisations mainly engaged in the operation of museums and art galleries.

8 Collections Australia Network was used to identify any museums or art galleries that may not have been recorded on the ABS Business Register or were operated by organisations not classified to ANZSIC06 Class 8910 - Museum Operations. Collections Australia Network is considered to be a comprehensive national directory of collecting institutions. However, registration to Collections Australia Network is voluntary. Refer to the Technical Note on historical comparisons which explains the difference between Collections Australia Network and Australian Museums OnLine, which was used to supplement the 2003-04 survey.


9 Data in this publication have been adjusted to allow for lags in processing new organisations to the ABS Business Register, and the omission of some organisations from the register. The majority of organisations affected, and to which the adjustments apply, are small in size.

10 Adjustments have been made to include new businesses in the estimates in the period in which they commenced operations, rather than when they were processed to the ABS Business Register. Adjustments of this type will continue to be applied in future periods.

11 For more information on these adjustments, please refer to the ABS publication Information Paper: Improvements to ABS Economic Statistics, 1997 (cat. no. 1357.0).


12 The statistical units used to represent museum and art gallery organisations, and for which statistics are reported, were:
  • the Australian Business Number (ABN) or Type of Activity Unit (TAU) for organisations selected from the ABS Business Register; and
  • the museum or art gallery selected from the Collections Australia Network listing.

ABS Business Register

13 In the Museums Survey, the statistical unit used to represent businesses, and for which statistics were reported, is the ABN unit, in most cases. The ABN unit is the business unit which has registered for an ABN, and thus appears on the Australian Taxation Office administered Australian Business Register. This unit is suitable for ABS statistical needs when the business is simple in structure. For more significant and diverse businesses where the ABN unit is not suitable for ABS statistical needs, the statistical unit used is the TAU. A TAU is comprised of one or more business entities, sub-entities or branches of a business entity within an Enterprise Group that can report production and employment data for similar economic activities. When a minimum set of data items is available, a TAU is created which covers all the operations within an industry subdivision (and the TAU is classified to the relevant subdivision of the Australian and New Zealand Industrial Classification (ANZSIC)). Where a business cannot supply adequate data for each industry, a TAU is formed which contains activity in more than one industry subdivision and the TAU is classified to the predominant ANZSIC subdivision.

14 Further details about the ABS economic statistical units used in this survey, and in other ABS economic surveys (both sample surveys and censuses), can be found in Chapter 2 of the Standard Economic Sector Classifications of Australia (SESCA) 2002 (cat. no. 1218.0)

Collections Australia Network listing

15 The organisations identified from the Collections Australia Network listing were, in the main, museums or art galleries, which had not separately registered as an ABN, or were operated by organisations not classified to ANZSIC06 Class 8910 - Museum operations, or were operated as part of federal, state and local government units.


16 Annual industry data for museums is also published in Australian Industry (cat. no. 8560.0). However, the population and scope is significantly different from that used in the Museums Survey, therefore comparisons should not be made with Museums.

17 Information presented in the Australian Industry publication relates to businesses recorded on the Australian Business Register that were mainly engaged in operating museum or art galleries. These businesses are classified to ANZSIC06 Class 8910 - Museum Operations.

18 In contrast, information presented in Museums presents information on organisations that were classified to ANZSIC06 Class 8910 - Museum Operations and/or the Collections Australia Network listing. Organisations selected from the Collections Australia Network listing may not have predominantly engaged in the operation of a museum and/or art gallery. Furthermore, only museums/art galleries open to the general public during the 2007-08 reference cycle were included in the survey.


19 The reader should bear in mind that this survey was not designed to support accurate estimates of change over time, and should exercise caution when comparing 2007-08 and 2003-04 results. For further information, refer to the Technical Note on historical comparisons.


20 When interpreting the results of a survey it is important to take into account factors that may affect the reliability of estimates. Such factors can be classified as either sampling or non-sampling error.

Sampling error

21 The estimates in this publication, are based on information obtained from a randomly selected stratified sample. Consequently, the estimates in this publication are subject to sampling variability, that is, they may differ from the figures that would have been obtained if all units had been included in the survey. One measure of the likely difference is given by the standard error (SE), which indicates the extent to which an estimate might have varied by chance because only a sample of units was included.

22 There are about two chances in three that a sample estimate will differ by less than one SE from the figure that would have been obtained if all museums in Australia had been surveyed, and approximately 19 chances in 20 that the difference will be less than two SEs.

23 Sampling variability can also be measured by the relative standard error (RSE), which is obtained by expressing the SE as a percentage of the estimate to which it refers. The RSE is a useful measure in that it provides an immediate indication of the percentage errors likely to have occurred due to the effects of random sampling, and this avoids the need to refer also to the size of the estimate.

Relative Standard Errors for Table 1, Summary of operations


Museum/gallery organisations at end June
Museum/gallery locations at end June
Persons employed at end June
Volunteers during the month of June
Government funding
Labour costs
Conservation expenses of museum objects/artworks
Exhibition/display development costs
Number of admissions
Museum objects/artworks at end June

24 As an example of the above, the estimate of total income for museums in 2007-08 was $998.4m and the RSE was estimated to be 1.9%, giving a SE of approximately $19m. Therefore, there would be two chances in three that, if all units had been included in the survey, a figure in the range of $979.4m to $1,017.4m would have been obtained, and 19 chances in 20 (i.e. a confidence interval of 95%) that the figure would have been within the range of $960.4m to $1,036.4m.

25 Estimates that have an estimated relative standard error between 10% and 25% should be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for some purposes. Estimates with an RSE between 25% and 50% should be used with caution as they are subject to sampling variability too high for most practical purposes. Estimates with an RSE greater than 50% indicate that the sampling variability causes the estimates to be considered too unreliable for general use.

Non-sampling error

26 Errors other than those due to sampling may occur in any type of collection and are referred to as non-sampling error. For this survey, non-sampling error may result from such things as deficiencies in the register of businesses and/or the Collections Australia Network listings from which the sample was drawn, non-response, imperfections in reporting and/or errors made in compiling results. The extent to which non-sampling error affects the results of the survey is not precisely quantifiable. Every effort was made to minimise non-sampling error by careful design and testing of the questionnaire, efficient operating procedures and systems and the use of appropriate methodology.

27 The collection of the number of free admissions is subject to non-sampling error, arising from the methods used by individual museums or galleries in measuring this concept. Many organisations do not keep accurate records of the number of free admissions to their museum or gallery, instead estimating this figure when reporting to the ABS. For this reason, users are advised to exercise caution when using this estimate.

28 The collection of the number of museum objects is subject to non-sampling error, arising from the way in which a given museum defines an object in their collection management system. Changes to a museum's collection management system can result in significant changes to the reported number of objects held, despite there being no actual physical change to the collection. For this reason, users are advised to exercise caution when using this estimate.

29 Not all museum objects/artworks acquired through means other than by purchase are able to be valued by museums/galleries. For this reason, users are advised to exercise caution when comparing this estimate against the number of museum objects/artworks acquired.


30 Where figures have been rounded, discrepancies may occur between the sum of the components and the total. Similar discrepancies may occur between a proportion or ratio, and the ratio of the separate components.


31 Data contained in the tables in this publication related to museum/art gallery operations in Australia during the year ended June 2008. Financial estimates included the activity of any museum/art gallery that ceased or commenced operations during the year. Counts of organisations or locations included only those that were operating at 30 June 2008. Employment included only those persons working for a museum/art gallery during the last pay period ending in June 2008.


32 ABS publications draw extensively on information provided freely by individuals, businesses, governments and other organisations. Their continued cooperation is very much appreciated; without it, the wide range of statistics published by the ABS would not be available. Information received by the ABS is treated in strict confidence as required by the Census and Statistics Act 1905.


33 Inquiries about these statistics should be made by telephoning the National Information and Referral Service on 1300 135 070 or Sarah Halbisch on (03) 9615 7533.