March 05th, 2021
No one at the Australian Museum really had any idea just how big a legacy their former colleague Patricia McDonald was going to leave the institution. Now they know and the story behind the McDonald bequest has become a heartwarming source of inspiration for those considering a similar legacy.
Ms McDonald had worked as the Australian Museum’s Education Officer for 35 years, earning a modest salary and living in house in Greenwich, on Sydney’s lower North Shore. She had never married and devoted herself to the Museum after she started working there in 1953, with a year’s teaching and a science education degree from the University of Sydney behind her. Before she died, the Museum and Ms McDonald had several discussions about her desire to leave a bequest to the Australian Museum Foundation that would foster lifelong learning.
And then, after Ms McDonald died in 2018, the executors of her estate told the Museum that the bequest was going to be substantially larger than the institution had expected. Ms McDonald’s bequest turned in to a $7 million gift, the largest bequest in the Australian Museum’s long history.