The first phase of the Australian Museum’s transformation – known as Project Discover is now open to the public.

In its most extensive renovation in decades, Australia’s first museum, originally founded in 1827, has redeveloped it’s public and exhibition spaces. This includes adding more than 3,000sqm of new public space, repurposed from back-of-house areas.

“Project Discover has transformed Australia’s first museum with its world-class natural history and cultural collection of more than 21million objects and specimens into a museum for the 21st century and beyond and our partnership with ADP Consulting has been key in the preservation of our exhibits and artefacts and the spaces we have created,” said Kim McKay AO, Director & CEO at the Australian Museum.

“This will be our third project working with the museum and one of the most exciting ones to date’, said Gavin White, Director at ADP Consulting. ‘The redeveloped areas will bring new breath taking experiences to tourists and the people of NSW at an unparalleled level. What has been exhilarating for our team is engineering such an iconic heritage building which was never intended for modern-day, cutting-edge technology. On a personal level, it’s been a real privilege to be part of a team creating an environment that will safeguard the historic treasures of Australian Museum and future touring exhibitions.”

Due to the significant scope of works, the Museum closed its doors to the public for the entire renovation, with staff remaining in the building due to the highly sensitive collections and exhibitions.

With numerous considerations around a project as complex as this, significant specialist requirements have been incorporated into the design from an early stage as well as careful consideration of specialist environmental conditions which have been applied to multiple areas and systems throughout the museum.

With a budget of $57.5 million, including $50.5 million funding from the NSW Government, Project Discover will facilitate the first stage of the AM’s transformation.

The transformation has delivered a new flexible touring exhibition hall across two levels to allow for one major exhibition or two exhibitions to be held simultaneously. There is an impressive new central staircase with stunning views to St Mary’s Cathedral with new escalators for seamless circulation between the Grand Hall, known as Hintze Hall, and the new Touring Exhibition Hall below. The redevelopment will also significantly improve the visitor experience with the creation of new education facilities, a new museum shop, a second café, expanded members’ lounge, cloaking and amenities.

An important part of the Australian Museum has been reducing its environmental footprint and it is now Carbon Neutral and has recycled and reused over 90% of the building materials from the project. The AM is the first natural history museum to be Climate Active Carbon Neutral certified.

Some key engineering design solutions included:

  • Humidity-controlled air handling units with N+1 redundancy and tight temperature deadband control so environmental conditions are always maintained.
  • Dry pipe, double-knock sprinkler systems to ensure no water is stored above critical exhibitions.
  • Flexibility in the communications, AV, lighting, and security system designs to accommodate a wide range of end-user requirements.

Dedicated to the Vietnamese diaspora, the museum has been an aspiration of the Vietnamese Community over the last two decades and will be the first Vietnamese Museum in Australia.

Capturing a defining time in the history of Vietnam and Australia, and the Vietnam War, the new Vietnamese Museum Australia (VMA) seeks to commemorate this legacy for future generations and to embody a physical emblem of hope – of a journey through conflict and terror, uncertainty and struggle, to resilience and hope of a new land.

The VMA will not only collect, record and preserve the culture and history of Vietnamese settlement in Australia, it will provide a vibrant multi-cultural hub in the heart of the Footscray community. Showcasing Australia’s world-class multicultural society, the museum will be a great environment where stories can be shared from both the past and the present and from the perspective of more than a hundred thousand Vietnamese Australian Refugees.

Furthermore, the facility will support community development and engagement and will be capable of hosting wider community functions, events, projects and initiatives which will transform the development into an iconic civic hub, resource centre and must-see destination in Victoria.

The four-level building will include a ground floor reception area, social service area, gift shop, multicultural hub, kitchen presentation space, exhibition space, shrine and roof terrace.

The VMA will be an important part of the ongoing journey of the Vietnamese Australian Community.

Established in 1827, the Australian Museum (AM) is the country’s first public museum, with more than 100 scientists, but with only a fraction of the floor space of similar institutions around Australia and in the region.

The AM’s Master Plan is a game-changer for New South Wales and Sydney.  Bringing new experiences, digital engagement, and community participation to Sydney at an unparalleled level, the AM will redefine the role of a museum and deliver significant benefits to the State and people of NSW.

The Australian Museum (AM) will become a global landmark sought out by an increasing number of tourists and regularly visited by locals who want to discover the latest adventures and cultural experiences this extraordinary museum has to offer.

The AM’s world-class extensive collections and highly regarded on-site scientific research are undervalued due to the outdated and inaccessible infrastructure, lack of a suitable touring exhibition hall, lack of education STEM learning spaces and poor visitor circulation.

ADP had a critical role advising the Australian Museum of key opportunities for the reconfiguration of existing facilities and the construction of new facilities to meet the Vision of the museum.  As part of our remit we developed the competition brief from a services perspective as well as assessing the competition submissions.

On government approval, the masterplan is slated to start in 2020 and open in 2024.

In 2017, following a year-long restoration, the Westpac Long Gallery in the Australian Museum, was open to the public. With generations of ad-hoc changes swept away, the original floors were uncovered, the marble columns revealed and restored and the original wire fretwork re-installed on all levels.

ADP Consulting are privileged to have been part of the team in the restoration of this iconic heritage landmark. Not just bricks and mortar, this has been a project of passion, reviving a sense of grandeur and wonder to this national treasure, the oldest museum in the nation which houses precious objects from Australia’s past.

Founded in 1827 to house a natural history collection, Australia’s first public museum has been at the forefront of scientific research, collection and education for 190 years.

As part of the restoration the Museum wanted to transform the Long Gallery into a modern multi-function space; enabling flexibility from hosting lectures to exhibition of the latest multi-media displays.

To ensure the best comfort to visitors, protection of the exhibits and to assist with humidity control, ADP designed a displacement ventilation system, to seamlessly incorporate into the display case assembly. This along with the delivery of a new audio-visual system has enabled the Australian Museum to comfortably host large functions amongst its 200 most valuable Treasures.

Taking centre stage in Bendigo, the transformation of Bendigo’s Gaol to Ulumbarra Theatre has delivered a collaborative and dramatic entertainment and cultural space to both the college and the community.  Ulumbarra – meaning gather together or meeting place in the language of the Dja Dja Wurrung people reflects the original indigenous use of the site as a lookout and meeting place.

The design of the theatre draws on the prison’s heritage and inverts its relationship with the community.

To the north, the new public face of the centre opens out onto Gaol Road; inviting visitors through a break in the old gaol wall.  The Theatre’s fly tower and contemporary facilities are deliberately located to rear of the site to encourage patrons through the heart of the former prison and into the central hall which connects Ulumbarra’s old and new spaces. Ulumbarra’s plan allows for various occupants to work simultaneously either as independent users or in collaboration.