The Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory (MAGNT) is the premier cultural institution in Darwin, the northern capital of Australia. It holds diverse collections that are representative of the art, natural history and culture of the region. Through its research and exhibition programs, the MAGNT aims to contribute to an understanding of the natural, cultural and artistic history of the region.
The MAGNT was established in 1966 with the introduction of a Bill into the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. Dr Colin Jack-Hinton was appointed the MAGNT's first Director, taking up the position in 1970. It was first housed in the renovated Old Town Hall (built in 1883 and originally known as the Palmerston Town Hall) in Darwin’s central business district.
On Christmas Eve in 1974, Cyclone Tracy hit Darwin and destroyed over 70% of the buildings in the city including the Old Town Hall. Much of the MAGNT collection was lost or damaged by this devastating event. For the next few years both the staff and collection were housed in multiple buildings around Darwin, coming together for lunchtime lectures in the ruins of the Old Town Hall.
After much deliberation, approval was finally granted for the construction of a new purpose-built museum and art gallery at Bullocky Point on the shores of Darwin Harbour, at the site of the old Vestey's Meatworks. It was opened on the 10th September 1981.
Over the last few decades, the MAGNT family has grown to include the Museum of Central Australia, Megafauna Central and the Strehlow Research Centre in Alice Springs and the Defence of Darwin Experience, Fannie Bay Gaol and Lyons Cottage in Darwin. The MAGNT became an independent statutory authority on 1 July 2014.