Museums Victoria leaving the past behind and looking to the future

Following a difficult year for Museums Victoria, Director and CEO Lynley Crosswell is embracing future technologies to entertain, educate and evolve the way the organisation operates.


Welcome to another edition of Fast Five - our fortnightly series where we ask Victoria’s most influential and exciting business leaders to unveil the challenges, successes and behind-the-scenes operations affecting different industries.

This week, we spoke to Lynley Crosswell – Director and CEO of one of our state’s most adaptive and agile organisations to come out of the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a lengthy background in the media, Lynley has spent the past four years at Museums Victoria, managing to not only grow the profile and prestige of its most famous assets, including Melbourne Museum, Scienceworks and the world heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building, but navigate through the challenges of a pandemic to have the business positioned firmly ready for the future. 

Museums Victoria Director and CEO, Lynley Crosswell.#1: What will be Museums Victoria’s biggest challenge over the next 12 months?

Local audiences have been eager to return to our museums, which has been wonderful to see. However, estimates are that international tourism to Australia won’t return to pre-COVID levels until at least 2022-23, which means we need to prepare for the continued impact to our business through lost revenues.

We aim to compensate for this shortfall by growing our intra and interstate domestic audience – and of course, attracting our Kiwi neighbours and any others within our travel bubble.

In the coming months we have many unmissable experiences and other surprises planned for our audiences, across our museums and online.

Last year we announced the acquisition of the world’s finest Triceratops fossil – the largest, most complete and most well-preserved ever discovered. This is an amazing object, completely unparalleled in any Australasian museum and will be a major attraction for audiences across Victoria, from around Australia – and, ultimately, from all around the world.

#2: What excites you about the future?

Our vision to transform Melbourne Museum and redevelop Scienceworks.

We’ve developed a phased program of renewal for Melbourne Museum that will deliver an additional one million visitors each year, with more than 6000 square metres of new exhibitions that will enable us to put more of the collections on view.

Scienceworks was built for 250,000 visitors annually but now consistently sees around 500,000 each year. Our proposed redevelopment will create more than 9000 square metres of new spaces, including a 1000 square metre exhibition hall and world-class STEM education spaces.

#3: How has COVID-19 impacted Museums Victoria in the long-term?

Closing our doors provided an opportunity to accelerate our digital life strategy.

In 2020 we took our museum experiences far beyond the museum walls with a broad digital offer that reached 34.5 million people over a 12-month period.

Importantly, during that time we saw adoption rates increase – showing us that audiences are now more comfortable than ever consuming digital content.

In the long-term, this greatly expands both reach and accessibility of our exhibitions and collections and creates opportunities for a whole new program of revenue-generating, virtual museum experiences.

#4: What is Museums Victoria doing that is unique?

Museums Victoria is doing what museums around the world are uniquely able to do – provide trusted knowledge that helps our diverse audiences make sense of what can seem like a crazy world going on around them.

Year round, we provide insight and perspective, as well as an hour or two of unique entertainment and escape.

#5: What has been your greatest lesson learned over the past year?

Adapt and adapt quickly – don’t let perfect be the enemy of good. The environment changed rapidly and continuously and required rapid response to maintain connection with our visitors, our customers.

Our offer wasn’t always perfect, and it didn’t need to be – we were able to meet the customer need at the time. 

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