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Sydney’s Australian Museum set to close for major renovations

Sydney’s Australian Museum set to close for major renovations
August 12, 2019

The Australian Museum closes to the public from 19th August 2019, to enable their major renovation, Project Discover.

With a budget of $57.5 million, including $50.5 million from the NSW Government and $7 million to be raised, Project Discover will facilitate the first stage of the Museum’s evolution.

Cox Architects alongside the firm behind the award-winning Crystal Hall, Neeson Murcutt, are leading the design, which will be completed in time to deliver the global blockbuster exhibition, Tutankhamun: Treasures of the Golden Pharaoh in early 2021 – the most significant collection of artefacts ever to leave Egypt.

Australian Museum Chief Executive Kim McKay notes "we have a bold vision for the (Museum and) Project Discover is just the beginning. Once this initial redevelopment is completed, we will not only be able to accommodate world-class exhibitions, we will be on track to create a world-class museum with the best possible opportunities for our scientists, our visitors and the community. It’s an incredibly exciting time for the future of the (Museum).”

The Australian Museum, the nation’s first museum founded more than 190 years ago, is committed to its leading work in scientific research, STEM education and creating world-class exhibitions for Australian and international visitors alike. As the custodian of over 20,000 cultural objects held in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Collection and many thousands from across the Pacific, the AM is also an important site of cultural exchange and learning.

The Australian Museum currently has the smallest public floor space of any major museum in the country. As a comparison, its 6500m2 is but a fraction of Melbourne Museum’s 40,000 metre². Furthermore, the AM’s collection is the largest in the southern hemisphere, comprising some 21 million objects and specimens valued at almost $1 billion, yet less than 1% of it is on display.

The funding enables the Australian Museum to repurpose existing storage space to significantly expand the touring exhibition halls to 1500 metre² across two levels – allowing the AM to host either one major exhibition or two exhibitions simultaneously.

As well as the transformed exhibition spaces, the redevelopment will also create new education facilities, a new museum shop, a second café, expanded Members' Lounge, cloaking and new amenities.

Key service upgrades are to include:

Visitor experience
● Repurposing existing storage space within the museum to create a new, flexible 1500sqm touring exhibition hall capable of staging major international exhibitions
● New Members’ Lounge facing Cook & Phillip Park and St Mary’s Cathedral
● Dedicated groups entry directly off William Street, with a new accessible bus drop off and pick up bay
● Enhanced accessibility with a drop off zone and street level entry on William Street, linking to one of the museum’s elevators
● Improved circulation and wayfinding throughout the museum with a new central staircase to help access throughout the building
● New escalators providing seamless circulation throughout the museum’s exhibitions and Atrium
● Creation of a new AM Store located adjacent to the expanded entry/exit zone next to the award-winning Crystal Hall
● Additional family café on Level 2
● More of the museum’s sandstone heritage revealed

● New interactive education areas catering for toddlers through to Year 10 students, integrating museum programs linked to the syllabus
● Two new flexible education rooms which can be converted into one large space, ideal for talks and presentations after hours

● Upgrading the Museum’s public amenities (including additional toilets, a baby change and accessible bathroom and new cloaking facilities) catering for families and people with accessibility needs
● Dedicated amenities for students as part of the upgraded education facilities on Lower Ground

● New and improved entry off William Street for students and education groups, fully accessible and able to cater for guest and carer drop off.

Related Articles

17th May 2019 - Australian Museum secures three major awards 

12th November 2018 - Public comment invited on Australian Museum renovation plans

11th June 2018 - Australian Museum to host largest Tutankhamun exhibition to ever leave Egypt

4th December 2016 - Australian Museum plans $285 million expansion

10th September 2015 - Australian Museum opens new Crystal Hall

1st February 2015 - Australian Museum unveils design for new new glass entrance

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