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First Peoples

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this resource may contain images or names of people who have since passed away.

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This 1975 report, commonly known as the 'Pigott Report', helped spur the creation of the National Museum of Australia in 1980 with the passing of the National Museum of Australia Act.

There had been plans to establish a national museum since Federation, but with world wars, depression, and limited political interest, little action had been taken.

However, in April 1974 the Whitlam government established a Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections.

The Committee of Inquiry’s Terms of Reference were:

(i) to advise on the scope, objectives and functions of an Australia Institute to develop, co-ordinate and foster collections, research and displays of historical, cultural and scientific material of national significance, giving particular attention to its relationship with Government and other institutions.

(ii) to recommend steps to establish such an institute;

(iii) in relation to the Australian Government’s direct field of responsibility and interest, to recommend measures which should be taken in the immediate future to:

(a) improve collection and conservation facilities for national material, with particular attention to research needs and training;

(b) ensure effective co-ordination of the Australian Government’s activities in this field;

(c) institute new developments and institutions, with particular attention to the establishment of a national museum of history in Canberra;

(iv) to recommend longer-term measures in the field of museums and collections, with particular attention to the Australian Government’s role in relation to state, local government, and institutional authorities.

The committee made several recommendations, most notably the establishment of a national museum in Canberra. However, several of its recommendations were not followed up (46), such as the creation of an 'Australians Museum Commission.'

At the same time a Planning Committee on the Gallery of Aboriginal Australia was created, to inquire into the planned establishment of a 'Gallery of Aboriginal Australia'. The two reports were published together in this one document.

  • The Committee of Inquiry on Museums and National Collections was chaired by P. H. Pigott and included G. N. Blainey, R. W. Boswel,l Mrs A. Clayton, D. J. Mulvaney, F. H, Talbot, D. F. Waterhouse, F. J. Waters and E. E. Payne.
  • The Planning Committee on the Gallery of Aboriginal Australia was chaired by D. J. Mulvaney and included K. Colbung, R. Edwards, J. Gwadbu, P. K. Lauer, D. R. Moore, H. Parker, D. Roughsey, W. E. H. Stanner, P. J. Ucko, and M. Valadian.
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