Recent studies have shown that the proportion of the Australian population aged 65 years and over grew steadily during the twentieth century and is projected to grow further during this century. The major contributors to this have been the declining fertility rate and increased life expectancy. In 1901 there were 151,000 people aged 65 years and over living in Australia, comprising 4% of the total Australian population. By 1998 this number increased to 2.3 million, or 12% of the total population. It is projected that by 2051 this will have grown to between 6 to 6.3 million, or around 24–26% of the expected total population of Australia.
This research project targeted older Australians aged 65 years and over, both those who currently visited and engaged with museums and those who didn’t. The study was a collaboration between the National Museum of Australia, Canberra and the Australian Museum, Sydney. These institutions were interested to find out more about the older museum audience in order to make an informed contribution to strategic planning and programming decisions, as well as to allow this information to be widely available to the Australian museums sector.