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2010–19

In this report we pay tribute to the achievements of Peter Dexter AM FAICD, who was appointed Chairman of the Australian National Maritime Museum Council on 19 July 2010 and reappointed twice. When his term ended on 17 August 2019, he became the longest-serving chairman in the museum’s 28-year history.

As Chairman, Mr Dexter oversaw significant growth and development at the museum. Today, it is one of the country’s most visited museums, engaging almost three times as many school students, more than twice as many onsite visitors and almost seven times as many offsite visitors as it did in 2010.

Mr Dexter has worked hard to ensure that targets have been met, high standards maintained and our reach – nationally and internationally – broadened. A key goal has been to ensure long-term sustainability through self-generated income, and this has met with significant success: in 2010/11, the museum generated $9.96M (or 31.6% of total revenue); by 2018/19, this had increased to $18.94M (or 45% of total revenue excluding one-offs).

His support was critical to major developments that have transformed the museum’s Darling Harbour site over the past decade. These include the $8.8M upgrade of the eastern side of the main building and improvements to Wharf 7 and the North Annex in 2011; construction of the North Gallery in 2013; the opening of the award-winning Action Stations Pavilion in November 2015; and, more recently, the upgrade of the museum’s foyer and, in particular, the acquisition and installation of the major sculpture, Au Karem ira Lamar Lu – Ghost nets of the ocean.

Photograph of retiring museum Chairman Peter Dexter with museum Director Kevin SumptionRetiring museum Chairman Peter Dexter with museum Director Kevin Sumption. Image Andrew Frolows/ANMM

Mr Dexter has championed the recognition and celebration of Australia’s rich and unique Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures. His support was crucial to the establishment of an Indigenous Programs Unit, which has hosted two national symposia on traditional Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander watercraft. The unit has also overseen the development of ground-breaking exhibitions, including East Coast Encounters – Reimagining the 1770 encounter; Undiscovered – Photographic works by Michael Cook; and Gapu- Monuk Saltwater – Journey to Sea Country, which won several awards.

During Mr Dexter’s time as Chairman, the museum won many Australian and international awards, including:

  • Silver Medal in the MUSE awards for the media projection Waves of Migration (2013)
  • Silver in the NSW Tourism Awards Major Tourist Attraction (2016)
  • Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design International Architecture Award for Action Stations (2017)
  • Australian Teachers of Media Award – Best Educational Game for The Voyage game (2017); Award of Excellence in the Communicator Awards, The Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts, for Pompeii Trader (2018)
  • Silver in Pop-up Display, Exhibit and Set Design in the Sydney Design Awards for Container: the box that changed the world (2018);
  • Winner, Best Scenography, International Design and Communication Awards for Gapu- Monuk Saltwater – Journey to Sea Country (2018)
  • Winner, International Project of the Year (less than £1 million), for Gapu- Monuk Saltwater – Journey to Sea Country (2019)

Mr Dexter was instrumental in revitalising the Australian National Maritime Museum Foundation in 2015, including the appointment of new directors and the cultivation of major supporters, including Ms Christine Sadler, the museum’s first Ambassador (ie, donor of more than $100,000 cash). Mr Dexter was a director of the Foundation from 2002, including an ex-officio director from July 2010. After Mr Dexter’s ex-officio appointment to the Foundation Board lapsed when he ceased to be Chairman of Council, he was reappointed for three years as a director in his own right.

In recognition of his service, Mr Dexter has been made an Honorary Fellow of the museum, the museum’s highest level of recognition. He is the third Honorary Fellow, joining RADM Andrew Robertson AO DSC RAN (Rtd) (recognised July 2016) and Mr John Mullen (recognised June 2017).

2010–11

2018–19

Variance 2010–2018

Own source income

$9.969M

$18.94M

90% $8.917M

Percentage self-generated revenue

31.6%

45%

13%

Total visitation

623K

2.11M

238%

Onsite visitation

440K

1.02M

132%

Offsite visitation

162K

1.09M

573%

School visitors

53K

197K

272%

National Maritime Collection

131,485

148,480

16,995

Cultural and heritage assets value

$65.97M

$73.8M

11.9% $7.83M

Collection objects digitised

40.3K

91K

126%