Leading Museums, Museum Leaders

AEC funded to establish exhibition at MoAD

The government will provide $6 million for a new exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

Rob Harris, New multimillion-dollar exhibition to promote Australia’s democratic history, The Sydney Morning Herald, 6 October 2020

A new permanent exhibition to help educate tens of thousands of visitors to Canberra about the nation’s democratic history and voting system will receive a $6 million boost in Tuesday’s federal budget.

The funding for an interactive public exhibition, to be based at the Museum of Australian Democracy at Canberra’s Old Parliament House, includes an upgrade to the National Electoral Education Centre which hosts more than 90,000 Australia school students each year.

The project was a recommendation from a parliamentary inquiry into national institutions last year which urged the centre be better resourced and offer a walk-up experience for impromptu visitors.

The Australian Electoral Commission will manage the design, curation and installation of the new public exhibition and the upgrade of the education centre.

The centre does not accept any private sector or philanthropic support given the nature of is work requiring strict independence and political impartiality.

Electoral Commissioner Tom Rogers has warned that the centre’s interactive programs were at risk of becoming “outdated” as primary school children, in particular, were exposed to more high-tech displays.

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the exhibition would help boost understanding of how Australia’s system of democracy works and be suitable for all ages on a self-tour basis.

“The AEC’s highly acclaimed education centre has successfully taught many thousands of students about Australia’s democracy and electoral system since 2001, but there has never been a space for public visitors to Old Parliament House to have the same educational experience,” Senator Cormann said.

“This funding will also deliver upgrades at the AEC’s education centre which will greatly improve the quality of group learning experiences, including by replacing of out of date touch screen technology allowing those facilities to be used by a wider range of groups than just students.”

The centre, through thousands of school camps to Canberra and an online service, provides free educational resources and programs for teachers and students about civics, citizenship democracy, the constitution and referendums.

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Ben Morton said it was fitting the commission’s new interactive exhibition would be housed at Old Parliament House given its responsibility to educating, inspiring and engaging visitors.

He said the project would give visitors a better understanding about how the democratic system worked.

“Australia’s voting system has led the world and is a story that should be told further,” Mr Morton said.

“By improving citizens’ knowledge base about our electoral system they feel more empowered to play a role in it.”
Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Lynley Crosswell, Museums Victoria, GPO Box 666, Melbourne VIC 3001, © CAMD 2023
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