Together, we’re making the future of history more accessible, and exciting, than ever. We will have more opportunity for sharing the stories and histories of the state, and for production of content such as exhibitions, education, and events, which will build MHNSW a prominent place in the State’s cultural programming.
As one of Australia’s pre-eminent archives and records authorities, SARA’s vast collection of government records and archives pre-dates European settlement in 1788. And as the custodian of 12 of the most important NSW historic houses, gardens and their collections; SLM opens the doors to the past in engaging, creative ways – virtually and in person.
By unifying our vast expertise, knowledge, assets and collections, we’re creating a new cultural institution – the one entry point for everyone to engage with. Providing our audiences with greater access to a broader range of stories about our social, historical, and cultural identity.
Alongside the creation of MHNSW, the current State Archives and Records Authority of NSW will be changed with the creation of a dedicated public office, State Records NSW (SRNSW). This entity will be separate to Museums of History NSW and will focus on record keeping standards, regulation, advice, education and policy.
The planning process started in 2019, and it’s been steadily underway ever since. It has been a busy few years to get to where we are today. Major milestones are below.
- January – March 2020: Terms of reference were referred to the Standing Committee on Social Issues to inquire into and report on the State Records Act 1998 (NSW) (the Act) and the Policy Paper on its review on 10 January and adopted by the Committee on 11 March 2020.
- April 2020: Submissions to the Standing Committee on Social Issues were received from the public in response to the policy paper.
- December 2021: a White Paper; A Review of the Records Act 1998 – the Future of History in NSW was delivered to the Standing Committee on Social Issues, and published in February 2022.
- June 2022: the MHNSW Bill was introduced in the Legislative Assembly by the Hon James Griffin, Minister for Environment and Heritage.
- September 2022: NSW Parliament passed the Museums of History NSW Bill 2022, creating the Museums of History NSW Act 2022 and amending the State Records Act 1998.
- December 2022: MHNSW and SRNSW will become effective on 31 December 2022.
Yes! We are working with For The People, one of Sydney’s leading agencies to bring our new brand to life. It is expected that MHNSW will have its own brand identity and consistent branding across every touchpoint. So that wherever our audiences engage with us, online or in person, they’ll get to know, recognise and remember MHNSW.
Yes, all of SLMs properties and their collections will now form part of MHNSW.
As with all brand-naming exploration, a set of criteria was put in place for the new institution. Our new name needed to:
- be unique
- position us within the cultural institution
- highlight our core mandate of history
- communicate the state-wide focus of institution
- be clearly understood by a diverse range of audiences
- position the new entity alongside other NSW cultural institutions
- allow enough flexibility to embrace everything that we do.
From here, a range of names were put forward as part of some preliminary brand positioning undertaken with Sydney-based agency, The Royals following consultation with staff and key external stakeholders.
While a number of names were proposed, ultimately, Museums of History NSW was selected as the preferred name. It most closely fits the naming criteria, and has been endorsed by the Hon Ben Franklin, Minister for the Arts. It also highlights our role in promoting the state’s history, with the ‘flex’ to make it discoverable, compelling, and relevant for our diverse audiences.
Yes! Our Digital team has been working with external consultant, Pollen, to develop a web and digital strategy, and to create the new website for MHNSW. The project is moving ahead quickly, and the web design is well underway with an expected launch in late 2022.
The State Records NSW will also have a new website.
A dedicated public office for record keeping policy and regulation will be created, State Records NSW (SRNSW). SRNSW will be responsible for the strategic direction and policies. It will have power to issue a notice to require a public office to investigate its recordkeeping practices (whether generally or specifically) and report back on its findings to SRNSW.
There will be improved changes under the legislation that will make transfer planning an obligation for public offices.
Overwhelmingly supported by stakeholders, the recommendation to bring access provisions in line with other comparable jurisdictions in both Australia and internationally has been proposed. This will see the 30-year open access period reduced to 20-year open access period. Records in the open access period will be open by default, unless the public office that is responsible for the records makes a ‘closed to public access’ direction.
State Records NSW (SRNSW) will be established as a dedicated public office on 31 December 2022. This will be a separate entity to Museums of History NSW (MHNSW) and the staff currently in the Recordkeeping Standards & Advice team will move to SRNSW. While there will be cohesion between the work of MHNSW and SRNSW, SRNSW will operate independently of MHNSW.
SRNSW will focus on being a modern regulator, whilst supporting public offices to meet their recordkeeping obligations. SRNSW will have the capacity to undertake targeted monitoring of public office compliance with the Act. As a separate entity to MHNSW, it will have the opportunity to raise the profile of its work and recordkeeping standards within Government.
There are no changes to the work the GRR provide stakeholders. The GRR will form part of MHNSW. Business will continue as usual, prior to the creation of MHNSW and thereafter.
MHNSW will continue to manage, preserve and increase public enjoyment of and access to the more than $1.4 billion collection.
Transfers to the NSW State Archives Collection will continue to be managed by the current Agency Services team whose functions will form part of the new MHNSW entity.
There will be improved changes under the legislation that will require transfer planning to be an obligation for public offices and the Agency Services team will lead the implementation of this requirement.
Public access will continue to work in the same way as now, however with a significant improvement. A key change to the Act will be the reduction of the open access period from 30 years to 20 years and the automatic opening of records after 20 years unless there is a closed to public access direction put in place by the agency that controls those records. This will be a significant change to access in NSW and the Agency Services will be implementing the change in legislative responsibilities for public offices. To access the NSW State Archives, see here.
State Records NSW (SRNSW) and Museums of History NSW (MHNSW) will maintain a close working relationship. The Museums History NSW Act provides a change to the current composition of the SARA Board, whereby the CEO of MHNSW will be a permanent full-time member of the SRNSW Board. This will provide connection between the two organisations.
At an operational level, public offices will continue to work with the Recordkeeping Standards and Advice team, as part of SRNSW, in the same manner as they do today. Collaboration will occur between SRNSW and the Collection, Access and Commercial Services teams within MHNSW to ensure that service provision to public offices (and members of the public) is seamless.
A strong focus on clients will continue to be the hallmark of both organisation’s work.