"National Museum of Australia [NMA]" National Museum of Australia Tip by kit_mc

National Museum of Australia, Canberra: 22 reviews and 65 photos

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The NMA opened in 2001 as part of the federation centenary celebrations, over 100 years since a 'museum of the nation' had first been suggested for Australia. The NMA has become rather a site for negotiating Australian identity, a battleground for defining that identity and how notions of Australian-ness should be defined and portrayed, both to Australia itself and to foreign visitors. In some ways, this is a museum that just can't win - everyone thinks it's biased one direction or another. Plus, in some ways it doesn't meet the celebratory and more conventionally nationalistic overtones of that Canberra favourite, the War Memorial.

The museum also has a nice coffee shop, a posh restaurant and an excellent gift shop.

In my opinion, as a national museum, this place serves its purpose. What some view as a confusing melange means it's a victim of its remit, which was always going to be unavoidable. Shouldn't a national museum be controversial? How do you portray a national identity that is itself socially constructed? If there is a narrative at the NMA, it's that one's sense of national identity is learned and differs based on age, gender, ethnicity, to name but a few factors. How dull would it be if we all agreed on one single identity, surely?

Don't miss this museum - it's a must. Make sure you have enough time to at least spend a few hours wandering round the different levels and getting a good look at the outside. The permanent exhibitions are free, temporary exhibits have a small charge of maybe 5 dollars.

Address: Acton Peninsular, Canberra, ACT
Directions: Acton Pensinsular, on the north shore of the Lake, south of the National University [ANU] a 20 minute walk south west of Civic. Or take bus number 34 from Civic.
Phone: 02 6208 5000
Website: http://www.nma.gov.au

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Sep 19, 2005
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