Happy 160th Birthday Queensland Museum

20 January 2022

It all started with a little windmill on the hill in Spring Hill, now 160 years later, Queensland Museum boasts a collection of 15 million items, and has welcomed tens of millions of people through its doors.

Throughout its first 50 years, the museum was finding its place in the state, with multiple locations across the city, before finding its home in Bowen Hills, which is widely known as the ‘Old Museum’.

This iconic location was where the museum cemented its place in the hearts of Queenslanders and some of the most loved and recognisable items became part of the fabric that makes up the museum, including Mephisto (1919), and the Triceratops (1976) and Tyrannosaurus Rex (1978) that now reside in the Dino Garden.

Throughout this time, was a period of massive change and growth for the museum, both in development of the building and staff members.  It wasn’t until 1948 that the galleries were lit with electricity.

In 1985, the 101 museum staff packed up two million collection items to move to the Queensland Cultural Centre, with the new museum opening on 2 October 1986, unveiling the iconic humpback whales.

For 36 years, the flagship museum at South Bank has had a number of changes including a new entry and welcoming the Sciencentre in 2004 and also expanding our reach across the state opening campuses in Toowoomba (Cobb+Co Museum), Townsville (Museum of Tropical Queensland) and Ipswich (The Workshops Rail Museum).

The museum has a unique collection that showcases and documents the history of Queensland.

An important part of the museums history has been the establishment of the Queensland Museum Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Committee (QMATSICC) in 1993 to advise on all matters relating to Aboriginal People and Torres Strait Islanders.

The museum is very proud to be able to contribute to sharing cultural stories and collections as we aspire to be a leader in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander engagement, cultural awareness and programming into the future.

Minister for the Arts Leeanne Enoch said she was delighted to join all Queenslanders in celebrating the Queensland Museum Network’s important 160-year role in capturing and sharing the state’s unique culture.

“Our stories – vibrant, fascinating and sometimes confronting are reflected in the Museum’s collections and act as the threads that weave the truth of who we are for future generations.

“Importantly, in recognising its unique role regarding truth telling and ultimately Treaty in Queensland, the Network established its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Consultative Committee, which has played a crucial role in unlocking collections in culturally sensitive ways that delivers benefits across the state.

“The Queensland Government is proud to support the Queensland Museum Network as an important keeping place for the State Collection of more than 1.2 cultural objects, natural history specimens and geological treasures and more than 14 million research items.

“Its network across Brisbane and regional campuses offers dynamic public programs and events that have attracted record visitation over the years, reinforcing the Queensland Museum’s position as world-class.

“Congratulations to all at the Queensland Museum Network on reaching this significant milestone and I invite Queenslanders to continue to enjoy the Museum’s engaging events, exhibitions and programming in 2022 – including the upcoming World Science Festival.”

Queensland Museum Network CEO Dr Jim Thompson said 2022 was shaping up to be another great year for the museum.  

“There has been tremendous growth in the museum across 160 years, especially in terms of visitors,” Dr Thompson said.

“In 1875, the museum welcomed 25,501 visitors in one year. To put things in perspective, on 25 March 2017 we welcomed a record daily visitors with 29,099 attendances.”

“After a tumultuous 2020 and 2021 for many, we are thankful to be open to the public and ready for the year ahead which has many highlights including the upcoming World Science Festival Brisbane and Curiocity Brisbane in March.

“Kicking off the year, we will be hosting our first family-friendly A Night at the Museum for 2022 on our 160th Birthday on 20 January, followed by another on 21 January, which will be the final A Night at the Museum prior to Brickman Wonders of the World closing on 30 January.”

Throughout 2022, Queensland Museum will continue to deliver a range of exciting programs and events with new exhibition announcements coming soon. For more information visit www.qm.qld.gov.au



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Christine Robertson, Senior Media Officer, 0417 741 710

Kylie Hay, Senior Media Officer, 0434 565 852