CEO: Mr Alec Coles, OBE

Alec Coles is CEO of the Western Australian Museum which has branches in Perth, Fremantle, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Albany, and Carnarvon, and also works in communities throughout WA.

He was, previously, Director of Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums, in North-East England and before that, the CEO of the Northumberland Wildlife Trust, and environmental charity.

He led the development of the New Western Australian Museum in Perth – the WA Museum Boola Bardip; a $400 million project, completed in November 2020, a place where Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander People’s voices balance those of others.

Coles was also a member of the team that delivered the award-winning National Anzac Centre in Albany.

Coles aspires to create museums owned and valued by their communities and admired by the world.

Coles is also an Adjunct Professor in the School of Social Sciences at the University of Western Australia. He has held many non-executive positions and is Chair of the WA Genome Atlas Advisory Committee and is the immediate past Chair of the Partners’ Council of the Western Australian Biodiversity Sciences Institute. He is also the Chair of the Finance and Resources Committee of the International Council of Museums (ICOM) and a former Chair of ICOM Australia.
Coles was made an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2010.

In 2021, he was named Western Australian of the Year in the Arts and Culture category.


The Western Australian Museum is the state’s premier cultural organisation and the world’s gateway into the heart of Western Australia.

The WA Museum comprises seven iconic and diverse locations across Western Australia, designed to inspire curiosity to explore the past, question the present and shape the future. Further to its public sites, the WA Museum has a dedicated Collections and Research Centre which houses more than eight million objects.

Sitting at the heart of the Perth Cultural Centre precinct is WA Museum’s flagship site – Boola Bardip – where Western Australia’s cultural, social, and scientific history comes alive. Boola Bardip means ‘many stories’ in the local Nyoongar language. Boola Bardip’s role is to inspire the curiosity of visitors from around Australia and the world by showcasing stunning collections and presenting a range of immersive exhibitions, vibrant programs, discussions, and debates. It is a dynamic and contemporary place designed to be engaging, evocative, pose deep questions and create conversations. All this, combined with an award-winning design and beautiful location, make it a magnet for tourists and locals alike.

Thirty minutes south of Perth, overlooking the Fremantle Port and Indian Ocean, the WA Maritime Museum is a world-class tourist attraction uncovering the vast riches of WA’s maritime history. WA Shipwrecks Museum, also located in Fremantle, dives into the fascinating history of Australia’s oldest and most intriguing shipwrecks, including the Batavia.

Outside the metropolitan area, all three regional sites – Museum of the Great Southern in Albany, Museum of Geraldton, and Museum of the Goldfields in Kalgoorlie – bring to life the rich natural and social history of the local areas in interactive, contemporary, and engaging ways.

In addition, the WA Museum proudly manages the Gwoonwardu Mia Gascoyne Aboriginal Heritage and Cultural Centre. Based in Carnarvon, this multipurpose centre has worked with the five Aboriginal language groups of the Gascoyne Region to celebrate and share their stories and culture.

The design and delivery of all WA Museum visitor experiences are underpinned by its purpose: Rethink your world and supported by four strategic pillars | West Australian Museum Strategic Plan
• Sustainability
• At the Heart of the Community
• Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples
• State-wide

All photos courtesy of the WESTERN AUSTRALIAN MUSEUM