Northern Territory Museum and Art Gallery
History and museums
The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) is the main museum in the Northern Territory. The museum is located in the inner Darwin suburb of Fannie Bay. On 1 July 2014, the MAGNT became an independent stautory body. The MAGNT is now governed by the Board of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory and is supported by the Museums and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory Foundation.
In 1964 a Bill was introduced into the Northern Territory Legislative Council to start a museum in Darwin by making the Museums and Art Galleries Board of the Northern Territory. The first director, Dr. Colin Jack-Hinton, was appointed in 1970. The Old Town Hall in Smith Street in Darwin's CBD was chosen as the Museum's first location. The museum contained Southeast Asian and Pacific culture, maritime history, natural sciences, Indigenous culture and contemporary art. Before Cyclone Tracy in 1974 the Old Town Hall was almost complete from renovations. The cyclone caused major structural damage to the building and a portion of the art collections were damaged. The salvaged collections were put in rented space scattered around Darwin.
It was not until three years after Cyclone Tracy that in 1977 the Commonwealth Government approved of a new museum at Bullocky Point in the suburb of Fannie Bay. Construction commenced on the new museum in 1979 after the Northern Territory was granted self-government, and funding for the new building was confirmed.
The building was opened on 10 September 1981 by the Governor General of Australia and was known as the Northern Territory Museum of Arts and Sciences. The museum featured the history, science and visual art of the region and its people. an extension was built and completed in 1992 to display the Northern Territory's maritime history. In 1993 the name of the museum was changed to the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory.
The Territory's art collection consists of over 30,000 items of art and material culture. Famous exhibits include the body of Sweetheart, a crocodile notorious for attacking boats.
Each year the MAGNT presents a dynamic program of both internally developed exhibitions, carefully curated from the collection, and the best travelling exhibitions from around Australia. It's also the home of the annual Telstra National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art Awards - the most significant celebration of its kind in Australia.