ARM Delivers New Exhibit Gallery and Play Spaces for the National Museum of Australia

ARM Architecture has delivered a new gallery exhibition space and children’s play space as part of the National Museum of Australia’s (NMA) $250 million master plan for 2019. At $34 million, the gallery exhibit and revitalized play spaces represent the largest redevelopment of the museum since it opened its doors in 2001.

Spread over 2,500m², the latest redevelopment of the famous social history museum follows ARM’s initial building design in 1997 and subsequent extensions over the past 20 years, including the addition of a café and a workplace in 2013 and a forecourt in 2017. It’s also the final milestone delivered in ARM’s renewed 2017 master plan, which is expected to double the size of the museum grounds by 2030.

Designed by US firm Local Projects, the group responsible for delivering the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in New York, NMA’s main exhibition space is based on the ARM master plan, with the design dramatically opening up the volumes interiors to improve layout and orientation.

The latest redevelopment offers NMA’s largest gallery space to date, The Great Southern Land, as well as the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Center, an immersive play space for children. Integrating innovation and technology, these two interactive spaces give way to 2000 traditional and digital objects to exhibit.

“The new design of the exhibition now realizes the original intention of the Museum, the layout leaving room for the form of the building to be seen and experienced. The design now allows for spectacular views of Canberra, while the Discovery Center opens up a part of the museum that was not previously accessible,” says ARM founding director and original NMA architect Howard Raggatt .

“The redevelopment is a key step in the master plan’s overall vision and we look forward to the unveiling of the remaining steps over the coming years.”

NMA Director Mathew Trinca said: “The way the museum has changed and developed over time has kept pace with the changes we have seen in Australian life. We are a different Australia today than we were 20 years ago, and we are a different museum now than we were when we opened in 2001.”

Observing that the NMA represented the many untold past, current and emerging stories of Australia as a nation, ARM project architect Jessica Heald said it was nearly impossible to represent the country’s identity in its together.

“However, the design of the NMA actively engages with this idea of ​​complex and tangled stories.”

The Great Southern Land and the Tim and Gina Fairfax Discovery Center are now open to the public.

Images: Anne Stroud Photography

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