Made up of tropical islands, dense rainforests, flat river plains, arid deserts, rich agricultural belts, bright cities, and colourful country towns, Queensland is as diverse and wonderful as the people who call the Australian state home.
A vision to discover Queensland and inspire generations
With a wealth of natural history and cultural heritage to showcase, the Queensland Museum Network acts as a custodian of collections that tell the evolving story of Queensland. Collecting and connecting for more than 150 years, it now cares for over a million items and specimens worth more than AU$479 million.
Professor Suzanne Miller is the CEO and Director of the Queensland Museum Network. She says, “It’s incredibly exciting working across an extraordinary range of collections and also having that geographical reach. Our remit is very much across the whole of Queensland, delivering nationally and internationally, with some extraordinary collections. I love that our collections can reach so many different audiences and that we have such a variety of content. We can be doing medieval Europe this month and next month we will be doing dinosaurs.”
From Toowoomba to Townsville
The Queensland Museum Network is comprised of several museums across the state. In the capital city of Brisbane, there is the Queensland Museum and Sciencentre and the Museum of Lands, Mapping and Surveying. Across the rest of Queensland, there is the Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich, Cobb+Co Museum in Toowoomba, and the Museum of Tropical Queensland located in Townsville.
Although the museums are geographically dispersed, Suzanne has been focused on bringing the Queensland Museum Network’s campuses together to work as one so that staff benefit from sharing their knowledge and passion with a wider team of experts.
“We actually completely reorganized the network to operate as a single organisation. So, if you are a researcher on our campus in Townsville, the Museum of Tropical Queensland, then you are actually part of a much bigger research curatorial cohort that is part of the Queensland Museum Network. You might have one marine biologist based there, but across the network, we have five marine biologists. You are part of a much bigger peer group, which provides some real peer support. The leverage of that bigger group is much greater, so the whole is much greater than just the sum of the parts,” she says.
Always accountable in its service to the community
As a public service body, the Queensland Museum Network is driven to provide an important and unique service that is transparent when it comes to budgets, policies, and procedures. In order to achieve its mission — to inspire generations of Queenslanders to discover, celebrate, and value the distinctive natural and cultural environment — in a way that makes commercial sense, Suzanne ensures every single person working for the Queensland Museum Network knows how their role contributes to business objectives.
“Essentially, we have a one-page strategic plan. We are incredibly clear as well as being ambitious in our objectives,” says Suzanne. “The idea is that every single one of our employees — whether they are permanent, whether they are on contract, whether they are casual, or one of the many volunteers who work with us — has a really clear line of sight between what they do and the strategic goals of the organisation.”
Future generations looking to discover Australia’s heritage
Suzanne’s strategy for attracting growing audiences to the network is working. This year, the Queensland Museum Network delivered the World Science Festival Brisbane, which saw more than more than 120,000 people visiting the festival — a figure well above the initial target of 60,000. There are also plans in the pipeline for new exhibitions and programs, which will allow loyal audiences to enjoy each and every visit.