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National Museum of Australia

Thursday, May 1, 2008
The National Museum of Australia opened in March 2001 at Acton Peninsula in Canberra, coinciding with Australia's Centenary of Federation.

Although one of Australia's newest cultural institutions, it was almost 100 years in the making. During the 20th century, proposals for a national museum were intermittent, interrupted by wars and financial crises and stifled by government inaction. An enquiry in 1975 finally saw the passing of the National Museum of Australia Act.

As is usually the case with such proposals, the winning design caused much discussion and debate. Far from a traditional museum, the post-modern design complements the museum's diverse collection. In 2001, it was awarded the prestigious international honour of the Blueprint Architecture Award for the Best New Public Building of the Year. It also won Best Major Tourism Attraction awards in 2005 and 2007.

At the core of the Museum and its exhibitions is the National Historical Collection, nearly 200,000 objects representing Australia's history and cultural heritage.

It has a collection of horse-drawn vehicles and cars, and a vast collection of Aboriginal bark paintings and 95,000 stone artefacts. There are diverse collections of convict clothing, leg irons, fire fighting equipment and clothing, objects relating to migration and a boat which carried 38 Vietnamese people seeking asylum.

The museum has opened an exhibition celebrating the history of rugby league — League of Legends: 100 years of Rugby League in Australia. Rugby league began as a breakaway football competition in defiance of the New South Wales Rugby Union. The skilful and fast-moving game has grown to become one of Australia's most popular sports and enjoys passionate support of its fans.

Getaway asked Andrew Johns, quite possibly the game's most brilliant rugby league player, to show us around the exhibition. Many of his heroes have been represented, as has Andrew himself — and quite rightly so.

Joey, as he is known, has more records to his name than any other footballer in the history of the game. He is credited with reshaping the modern game and spent his entire senior career with the Newcastle Knights. He holds the club record as the most capped player and is rugby league's all-time highest point scorer.

To celebrate 100 years of rugby league, the Team of the Century was announced and Andrew was selected as halfback, rubber stamping him as one of league's greats.

Andrew has retired from representative football but continues to work with the Knights' rising stars, passing on his invaluable knowledge, skills and techniques to hopeful young players.

The exhibition displays objects and photographs, which will bring back memories to those who follow the code. Frank Hyde's binoculars and folding-card table are there. He used them for three decades to call games. The RAS Shield recalls the immortal Dally Messenger and there are trophies, caps and shields.


Canberra, Australia's national capital


League of Legends: 100 years of Rugby League in Australia is a free exhibition and will be on display until May 11, 2008. It will be at:

Queensland Museum from June-August, 2008

The Powerhouse Museum in Sydney from September-November 2008

Museum of Tropical Queensland in Townsville from December 2008-March 2009

National Sports Museum Melbourne from April-July 2009

For further information

The National Museum
Lawson Crescent
Acton Peninsula
Ph: (02) 6208 5338

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