barrabuwari muru Q&A

The Australian Museum’s Master Plan questions and answers

 What is barrabuwari muru?

  • barrabuwari muru is the name of the Australian Museum’s Master Plan. It means ‘future path’ in Sydney’s Aboriginal language.
  • The name reflects the Master Plan’s focus on showcasing our extraordinary Indigenous and Pacific cultural collections to international and local audiences.
  • The AM has been granted permission by Gadigal elders to use the Sydney language words in naming the Master Plan project.

Why does the Australian Museum (AM) need a Master Plan?

  • Australia’s first museum – the Australian Museum – will celebrate its 190th anniversary in 2017. The Master Plan will outline the future of the AM in the lead up to its bicentenary.
  • Although the AM has undergone significant transformation in recent years, The Master Plan will guide the Museum to reach its full potential at the historic William Street site.
  • The Master Plan will set the agenda for the AM’s continuing transformation, and will see the AM turned ‘inside out’, placing more of its world class collection on display and liberating more of its historic site for public access.

Why does the Australian Museum need to be transformed?

  • With the AM’s current site footprint, the organisation is limited in its capacity to deliver leading exhibitions and public and education programs to a growing audience.
  • At the AM’s William Street site, only 6,500 square metres of space is currently available to the public. The AM plans to triple its available gallery and public spaces.
  • The AM needs to significantly expand its offering to meet the needs of future audiences while continuing to safeguard the collection.

When will the master plan be delivered?

  • The Master Plan for the Australian Museum’s transformation was submitted for consideration by the NSW Government in December 2016
  • Once the Master Plan is considered by the Government, the next stage is for the AM to hold an international architecture competition for the new building design, to ensure design excellence.
  • If funding is made available, the AM will be able to commence construction as early as 2018 with a view to opening the new facility by 2022

How much is/will the Master Plan cost?

  • The NSW Government has invested $4.7 million over the last two years for the AM to develop its Master Plan.
  • The Master Plan details plans for a $285 million redevelopment, proposed to be funded through a combination of Government funding and other sources (such as philanthropic donations).

What will a transformed Australian Museum deliver?

  • A transformed museum will liberate more of the historic William Street site for public access, and increase the capacity of the AM to share more of this world class collection.
  • The future AM will showcase 20% of the AM’s collection of 18 million+ objects. Museums typically display around only 1% of their collections.
  • The transformed AM will make more of the Australian Museum Research Institute’s pioneering work accessible to the public through innovative exhibitions and programs.
  • The transformed AM will be a leader in digital engagement with the AM’s science and cultural collections unlocked for schools and lifelong learning.
  • The transformed AM will be more than a museum venue – it will invigorate the night-time economy through after-hours experiences and events, as well as generate new income streams through commercial partnerships.

What will a transformed Australian Museum feature inside the building?

  • A Grand Hall at the centre of the site, more than 70 metres long surrounded by historic sandstone walls and accommodating up to 2,000 people – larger than the iconic Hintze Hall in the National History Museum of London. It will become the AM’s central circulation and gathering space.
  • A large Story of Australia gallery, telling the story of Australia’s Indigenous people, and a Pacific Spirit gallery, exploring pacific cultures and environment. Both of these large galleries will enable the AM to exhibit its world class collection en masse.
  • An Indigenous and Pacific Cultural Centre, where culture will be celebrated and researched at the highest level, alongside the scientific research of the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI).
  • A world-class touring exhibition gallery that will enable Sydney to attract major international blockbusters that underpin the AM’s extensive collection.
  • Increased educational and community facilities including specialised STEM learning spaces and a new theatre
  • State-of-the-art DNA labs to expand the work of AMRI and the AM’s Wildlife Genomics team.

What will a transformed Australian Museum look like?

  • The master plan details the future vision for the site – it does not include detailed architectural plans. The final design is subject to an international design competition, to ensure design excellence
  • The AM has its own site on the corner of William and Yurong Streets, where a new building will be constructed.
  • This building is proposed to extend over the top of some of the existing structures, recognizing the heritage of the historic site while significantly increasing available floor space.

How tall will a new building be on the corner of Yurong and William streets?

  • The height of the new building is expected to be equivalent to 13 storeys above ground, but will in fact be 8 floors total (including double height floors)

What will be the impact on sightlines with a new building on the corner of Yurong and William streets?

  • This will ultimately depend on the final design of the structure on the eastern site of the AM, however the impact on sightlines is anticipated to be minimal.

Will the new building cause overshadowing of Hyde Park, Cathedral Square or the Domain?

  • Even at its maximum potential height, modelling indicates that a new structure would not cast any shadows on public space surrounding the AM site.
  • Minimal shadows will be cast south, towards Sydney Grammar, however these will remain largely within the shadowline of existing structures.
  • There may be some shadowing of Yurong Street – however, care has been taken in the master planning process to ensure that shadows are contained north of Stanley Street and the final design will take this into account.
  • Any shadows that may be cast by the proposed development will be controlled by the development approval process. The AM has been in consultation with the City of Sydney City Planning, Development & Transport Division regarding these issues, and once the building is designed it will subject to a Development Application (DA).

Will the community be able to have a say on the proposed development

  • The AM will undertake a comprehensive community engagement program. Stakeholders and community members can sign up for the barrabuwari muru e-newsletter on the Australian Museum website.


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