As at 30 June 2017, Australia’s major national collections consisted of heritage and cultural assets estimated to be valued at more than $10.5 billion.
This audit focussed on the collections held by the Australian War Memorial (Memorial), and National Gallery of Australia (NGA). The Memorial and the NGA are corporate Commonwealth entities, subject to the requirements of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013, including the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. Both entities have a legislated responsibility to develop, maintain, exhibit and utilise their collections in the national interest.
Of Australia’s National Collections, those held by the Memorial and the NGA are arguably the best known. Together, these entities are responsible for safeguarding assets valued at over $7 billion, or 70 per cent of the total value of Australia’s National Collections, holding items of historical, academic, and cultural value to the Australian people.
Effective collections management encompasses a range of different activities, including:
- collections practical management - practices that directly support care for the collection, such as the way items are handled, conserved, stored, secured, displayed and accounted for; and
- collections governance - effective collection management must also be supported through governance practices, strategic frameworks for the development of the collection, risk management, sound acquisition and disposal processes, and strong financial management controls that enable an entity to develop, maintain and exhibit the National Collections for the Australian people.
This audit has been undertaken to provide transparency into the collections management practices of these institutions from both a practical management and governance perspective.