The Museum of Australian Democracy is recognised as a nationally significant cultural and heritage site and a living museum of Australia’s social and political history. The staff and management of the museum, together with a large number of trained volunteers, are responsible for the conservation of the building, its heritage collection and for communicating the significance of this place to generations of Australians and its visitors’.
The Museum of Australian Democracy is a nationally significant heritage site. It is listed on the:
- National Heritage List;
- Commonwealth Heritage List;
- Register of the National Estate;
- ACT Government’s Heritage Places Register;
- National Trust of Australia’s (ACT) Register; and
- the Royal Australian Institute of Architects’ Register of Significant Twentieth Century Architecture.
National Heritage List
The National Heritage List, established under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Act No.1 2003, is a record of places that have outstanding natural, Indigenous or historical heritage values to the nation.
On 20 June 2006 the Museum of Australian Democracy was included on the National Heritage List. This announcement comes after a formal submission for nomination; formal assessment by the Australian Heritage Council and a decision by the Minister for Environment and Heritage, Senator the Hon. Ian Campbell.
National Heritage Listing is recognition that the Museum of Australian Democracy is one of the most significant heritage buildings in Australia. As the home of Commonwealth Parliament from 1927 to 1988, it was the setting for many major decisions and events that shaped modern Australia and therefore symbolises and reflects the development of Australia as a nation.
As part of the nomination process, the museum produced a booklet containing a wealth of detailed information about the building and its history.
A copy of the booklet is available for download (Note: 2.3Mb pdf).
Commonwealth Heritage List
In June 2004, the Federal Minister for the Environment and Heritage, the Hon Dr David Kemp MP, listed 336 places, including the Museum of Australian Democracy, on the Commonwealth Heritage List. Minister Kemp said the list would protect the places that have played a key role in the development of the Australian nation.
The List comprises natural, Indigenous and historic heritage places on Commonwealth lands and waters or under Australian Government control, and identified by the Minister for the Environment and Heritage as having Commonwealth heritage values. This list has been established under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999. Inclusion on the list provides legal protection for the sites, which means that no-one can take an action that has, will have or is likely to have, a significant impact on the environment of a listed place, including its heritage values, without the approval of the Minister.
The Australian Government owns or leases many places which have heritage value. Often related to the defence of our country, or the development of nation-wide communications and government, these places reflect Australia’s progression to nationhood. Australian Government-owned places include telegraph stations, defence sites, migration centres, customs houses, lighthouses, national institutions such as parliament and High Court buildings, memorials, islands and marine areas.
Heritage Management Plan
The management and staff of the Museum of Australian Democracy are committed to the long-term conservation of the building and its heritage collections through best practice heritage management. To this end, heritage management activities are undertaken as outlined in our Heritage Management Plan 2008-2013. This Plan has been developed in line with the Burra Charter: Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance. It is consistent with the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Amendment Act No.1 2003 and the associated Commonwealth and National Heritage Management Principles. The plan was Gazetted by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and the Arts on March 5 2008.
Download the Heritage Management Plan 2008-2013 (Note: 19Mb pdf)
Statement of Significance
The Museum of Australian Democracy statement of significance reflects the National Heritage List Values. It states:
‘Old Parliament House is a place of outstanding heritage values related to its history, design, location, collection of movable items, social values and associations. As the original focus of the Commonwealth Parliament and Government in Canberra, Old Parliament House is intimately associated with the political history of Australia, and the development of Canberra as the capital of Australia, from its opening in 1927 until the opening of the new Parliament House in 1988. It was the first purpose-built home for the Australian Parliament. The movable items associated with the building are also intimately associated with these events…’