Kim McKay AO
Director & CEO, Australian Museum, Sustainability and the Environment
As Director and CEO of the Australian Museum (AM), Kim McKay is responsible for strategic planning and management of the nation’s first museum, including a collection of over 22 million natural science and cultural objects and specimens.
Since being appointed in 2014 (the first woman in the AM’s 190-plus year history), Kim has initiated a broad transformation program including Project Discover, the AM’s $57.5m highly awarded renovation of public spaces. Completed in November 2020, Project Discover is an important step in the realisation of the AM’s Master Plan and Vision 2027 plans – marking the AM’s 200th anniversary.
Other initiatives at the AM under her leadership have included: introducing free general admission for the public; constructing a new award-winning entrance pavilion, Brian Sherman Crystal Hall; creating new galleries and programs, including the restoration of the heritage Westpac Long Gallery, an international-standard touring exhibition hall, and the Museum’s central civic space, Hintze Hall; establishing the Australian Museum Centre for Citizen Science; and undertaking a comprehensive re-branding campaign.
Prior to being appointed, she served for two years as a Trustee of the AM (2012-2014).
Driving a community understanding of science and the environment to effect positive change has been at the core of her international career. Kim cofounded the iconic Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World campaigns in the 1990’s and has since been focused on the environment, sustainability and public communications including working in non-fiction television for over a decade.
Before joining the AM, Kim was Director of Momentum2 Pty Ltd, a Sydney-based sustainability and communications agency and worked in the USA for the Discovery Channel and National Geographic Channels International where she was Senior Vice President Global Marketing and Communications. She co-developed The Genographic Project for National Geographic, which was, at the time, the world’s largest DNA population study.
Possessing a strong social conscience and environmental commitment, Kim co-founded the iconic Clean Up Australia and Clean Up the World campaigns in the early 1990’s and helped drive their success during their first decade. She received a UNEP International Award for Excellence in Environmental Communication in 1994.
Kim is a strong supporter of women in leadership and actively promotes women within the AM, and across the Museums sector where she championed a nation-wide mentoring program. She is on the advisory board of the One Million Women campaign and, in 2011, was named in the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence list and included in the book ‘The Power of 100…One Hundred Women who have Shaped Australia.’ In 2013 she received Australian Geographic’s Lifetime Conservation Award.
The co-author of five books in the True Green series published in Australia (ABC Books) and internationally by Nat Geo, Kim holds a BA in Communications from UTS, where she received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in 2010. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Wollongong in 2022 and serves on the Council of University of Technology Sydney.
Kim was made an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) in 2008 for distinguished service to the environment and the community, and was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW in 2021.
Kim currently Chairs the NSW Government’s Artform Museums and History Board, and serves on the Boards of The Somerville Collection Museum in Bathurst, the Australian Museum Foundation and the Lizard Island Reef Research Foundation. She is the Secretary of the Australian Museum Trust, a PRIA NSW Fellow, co-creator and co-founder of the Sydney Salon, member of the Executive Council of Australasian Museum Directors (CAMD), and member of Chief Executive Women. Kim also serves as a Member of the NSW Bar Association Senior Counsel (Silk) Selection Committee (2021 and 2022).
Kim McKay reminds us that big change starts with small, individual actions. In discussing True Green at Work at the Treasury Executive Institute, she gave a compelling call to action for each person to make changes that can help save this planet we share. She moves beyond gloom and doom predictions to share practical, easy changes to our daily behavior that cumulatively can make a big difference.
-US Federal Government
Kim's discussion of her book True Green @ Work was the jump-start we needed. Her knowledge and passion for the topic is extraordinary. She held the audience captive with her stories, her facts and her humour. I feel we moved forward one year in one hour.
-The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System
Her talk on the environment is fun, fact filled, convincing and animated. She is an engaging speaker whose passion for her work shone through each time. Audiences left feeling inspired rather than depressed and she stressed her theme of one person making a difference.
Kim was fantastic. She uses a blend of knowledge and humour to really engage with her audience and to provide a global overview as well as an insight into her own personal journey championing the environment. As a speaker, Kim conveys both authority and accessibility in equal measure.
We can’t thank Kim enough. She delivered a really compelling and inspiring speech to kick off our sustainability campaign, Project Leaf, and certainly got the staff talking. It was very aligned with our objectives for the event and the entire Green Team were thrilled.
-International Corporate, Forbes 100
Kim McKay was the Master of Ceremonies at the launch of my book The Big Mo in Sydney in October 2010. In a word, Kim was ‘brilliant’. From the very outset, she captivated the audience with her natural vivacity and assured manner – and really brought the whole event to life. She is engaging, charming and witty and kept things flowing smoothly without missing a beat. She is a consummate professional – inspiring, motivating, graciously eloquent and very well organised.