It’s been an exciting year for the Australian Museum with Project Discover and the announcement of Brian Hartzer joining the Foundation and Trust.

Australian Museum appoints Brian Hartzer as chairperson of Foundation

Scotty T.rex (c) James Morgan
The Australian Museum’s acclaimed exhibition, Tyrannosaurs

Announced on 3rd December by the Minister for the Arts, Don Harwin, Brian Hartzer has been elected Chairperson by the board of the Australian Museum Foundation (AMF). Brian will take on the role of Chairperson effective immediately, succeeding Chairperson Diccon Loxton’s who served the AMF for over 13 years before retiring. 

The ex-CEO of Westpac will also join the Australian Museum Trust, alongside Professor Katherine Belov AO. Other trustees Jennifer Bott AO, Shauna Jarret, and Sara Watts have also been reappointed, Dr Elie Hamman is stepping down, while Professor Merlin Crossley’s term will end at the end of the year. 

Brian said he was honoured to be joining the Australian Museum Foundation and Trust. 

“The Australian Museum is one of NSW’s most important cultural and scientific institutions, engaging the public on important issues like climate change, biodiversity, and First Nations cultures, as well as playing a critical education role. My family has enjoyed their experiences at the AM and I look forward to working with the AM team on its continued development,” says Brian. 

The Australian Museum Trust President, David Armstrong, says “it’s a great asset to have Brian’s capability and corporate experience on both the AM Trust and the AM Foundation, creating greater integration between the two entities.” 

The Foundation has been instrumental in almost doubling the $7 million needed for the Museum’s Project Discover – a major transformational project aimed at expanding its public floor space to better showcase the largest collection in the southern hemisphere.   

Unveiling Project Discover 

The redevelopment of Australia’s first museum has transformed its public and exhibition spaces, opening up more than 3,000 sqm, which was once back-of-house and storage areas. The main focus of the project has been the creation of a new central circulation space at the heart of the museum, Hintze Hall, a space now available to host major public events after hours.  

Australian Museum appoints Brian Hartzer as chairperson of Foundation

“Philanthropy is playing an increasing role in allowing the AM to achieve its vision, mount dynamic exhibitions, develop educational programs that excite learning, and conduct and share vital research and knowledge,” says Australian Museum Director and CEO, Kim McKay AO, in the Hintze Hall

Made possible through a $50 million contribution from the NSW Government, the museum also received generous philanthropic support from private donors to the tune of $7 million. 

These gifts included $5 million for the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation, recognised with naming rights of Hintze Hall, and $1 million from the Sherman Family Foundation, also acknowledge with the naming of the Brian Sherman Crystal Hall.  

As a child, Sir Michael Hintze was an enthusiastic member of the Australian Museum’s Discoverers Club, an education program allowing school students to engage with collections, exhibitions and fieldstrips. 

“As a young boy, the Australian Museum instilled in me an intellectual curiosity. It is a vital institution, deepening everyone’s understanding of the nation’s history through the lens of culture and science. I hope it will help to preserve our culture, history and the AM’s research excellence for many generations to come,” says Michael. 

Brian Sherman was President of the Australian Museum Trust for nine years and founding Chairperson of the Australian Museum Foundation.  

“The Australian Museum makes a significant contribution to Sydney’s cultural life. For almost 200 years, the Museum has educated and inspired Sydneysiders and visitors with exhibitions of work from  and research projects relating to  its incredible collections. In addition, major international touring shows hosted by the Museum have amplified Australia’s understanding of world heritage. It is a great privilege to have been a part of that history and to contribute to the Museum’s future place in our community,” says Brian. 

“Private support ensures that the AM will fulfil its potential and continue to share its scholarship and discovery with the global community into the future. Philanthropy is playing an increasing role in allowing the AM to achieve its vision, mount dynamic exhibitions, develop educational programs that excite learning, and conduct and share vital research and knowledge,” says Director and CEO of the Australian Museum, Kim McKay AO. 

Another gift from the Macdoch Foundation of $3 million will fund their new Pacific Gallery, scheduled to open in the next two years. The Macdoch Foundation was recently established by Prue and Alasdair MacLeod, and this gift will mark the Foundation’s first flagship gift. 

“Museums are much more than collections on display – they are centres of discovery, learning and storytelling and places of social interaction,” says Kim. 

 “I’m very proud of the team who have made this transformation possible. 

Project Discover is just the beginning for the Museum with plans to also transform the site on the corner of William and Yurong Streets to “ensure the Museum continues to deliver world-leading education, science and research for the next 200 years”. 

The Australian Museum is celebrating its 200th anniversary in 2027. Project Discover has been an important step towards the Australian Museum’s future, and we look forward to continuing to expand and evolve the Museum.” 


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