Kim McKay Australian Museum’s new director

By Erin Frick | February 21, 2014

Australian Geographic 2013 Lifetime of Conservation awardee will be the new director of the Australian Museum.

KIM MCKAY, AO, Australian Geographic Society 2013 Lifetime of Conservation awardee, has been appointed to the position of Director of the Australian Museum in Sydney.

Beginning 7 April 2014, Kim will be the first woman to serve as the museum’s director since its founding in 1827. She takes over the position from Frank Howarth PSM.

Kim has extensive experience in the fields of communications, social innovation and environmental awareness, including co-founding Clean Up Australia with Ian Kiernan in 1989.

The best way to garner enthusiasm for the museum and its rich scientific and cultural offerings, she says, is by facilitating direct public involvement. “We need to provide an engaging tactile experience – something that incorporates stimulating, hands-on participation and scientific education. People like to learn.”

In an era of technology, Kim also recognises the challenges of keeping current. “In the digital age, [the museum] is in competition with iPads and videogames for people’s attention. We need to be a source of ‘relevant’ entertainment,” she says. “We need to step away from the lengthy papers and textbooks in exchange for real-world applications to which everyone can relate.”

“Consider the droughts we had in Sydney several years ago. There were severe water restrictions and people really got behind that. When people see the effects of a changing climate in action, the efforts to effect change are both powerful and widespread.”

Kim McKay: a distinguished career

Kim’s most recent position at Momentum2, her social and sustainability marketing and communications company, involved project collaboration with international companies such as the National Geographic Society and Qantas. Kim also co-authored the True Green book series and developed cable programs with Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channels International.

She has served on an array of non-profit boards including the Sydney Institute of Marine Science Foundation, Fairtrade Australia and New Zealand, the National Business Leader’s Forum on Sustainable Development and the Genographic Project Legacy Fund.

Kim was recently awarded the Australian Geographic Lifetime Achievement Award for Conservation in 2013, specifically acknowledging her dedication to the ‘Clean Up Australia’ initiative which she cofounded in 1989. What started as a goal to improve the ecological wellbeing of the Sydney Harbour, expanded with the development of the ‘Clean Up the World’ campaign affiliated with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The Australian government recognised Kim’s work in 2008 when she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia.

Having served as an Australian Museum Trustee for two years, Kim says “The museum has 250 talented staff members and a big agenda for the future. Ambitious plans are already in progress.”

Kim believes the museum has an excellent opportunity to “empower people to learn, to discover who we are and what our place is in the world.”